Lots of Cayman’s burgeoning football talent are prepared to go abroad to try to fulfil their dreams and one youngster has done so and hopes soon to get a big break.
Naoki Montoya, former player of Bodden Town and Sunset, left the Cayman Islands in 2010 for England to pursue his dream of playing professional football in Europe.
Since England was the easiest step he went to a small club near London, Cirencester. He was only 15 then but the right winger was full of ambition.
Montoya attended the Cayman Islands Football Association camp held in conjunction with top Dutch side PSV at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex three years ago.
He kept in touch with Dutch coach Roy Wilhelm, who told the Caymanian that he needed to maximise his talent and to keep his focus on football.
That contact resulted in a two week training programme in The Netherlands, the country where a lot of young talent was raised before playing for clubs all over Europe.
“Naoki is a special player”, coach Wilhelm said. “Leaving your family and country proves that you are fully committed to achieve your goal, to play professional.
“After working with him twice a day here at the Willem ll facility, I’m very sure this kid has everything to become a pro.
“He is fast, has excellent technique, is close to be ambidextrous and has shown a great personality.
“Naoki knows that he needs to make steps forward to get to pro level, but his potential must be rewarded. It’s up to him and the coaches of Willem ll to develop his talents now.”
Klaas-Jan Breedijk, a licensed FIFA-agent and a friend of Wilhelm will take Montoya under his wings.
“Willem ll was and is not the only option, but the club is located in Tilburg and that makes it easy for transportation when Naoki stays with Roy,” Breeijk said.
“But I will make sure that this young man will be exposed to other professional clubs in Holland and Belgium, to get him the best chance to be successful.“
Montoya, who has turned 18, said: “Football is my passion, my life. I will do anything to get better. I know it’s still a long way to play in a first team of a professional club, but I will do all I can to achieve my goals.
“Football in Holland is very fast and technical, in England it’s more physical. I’m glad I can train daily on technique and I still can’t believe I’ve got this opportunity. Sometimes it’s so unrealistic. But I’m ready for the next step in my football life.”
The youngster will return to The Netherlands in September, to start his internship with Willem ll. Willem ll, founded in 1896 is the second oldest club in The Netherlands. Till then he has to keep himself in shape in England. Montoya can be the first professional player from the Cayman islands of his generation and that will give football here a massive boost.
Wilhelm said: “It’s time for the Cayman football authorities to develop a strong football development programme for the youth, so there will be more players like Naoki.
“And that can only be done by professionals, otherwise the potential players won’t get far enough to play on a higher level, like here in The Netherlands.”