Cayman’s female footballers will test themselves against a professional team from Miami later this month as they step up their preparations for two major international tournaments.
Both the women’s senior team and the Under-20 side will face Miami Strike Force on 25 and 27 June.
The U-20 side is building toward the CONCACAF U-20 finals, which will be hosted in the Cayman Islands in January and feature the top teams in the region, including world powerhouses from the US.
The girls have been involved in a series of practice matches against local boys sides to improve their intensity ahead of the Miami fixture.
Thiago Cunha, women’s technical director at the Cayman Islands Football Association, said he was impressed with how the U-20 girls had responded to the challenge in matches against an Elite U-15 boys team. His U-15 side also matched up against a junior boys side from South Sound School last week. He said he is trying to work with girls in every age group to emphasise the same possession-based football philosophy.
“Both matches were a good challenge for the players to improve the technical, tactical system and game pace,” Cunha said. “We are trying to insist through the age groups that we do not give the football away. We need to keep it in our possession all the time.”
He said playing against boys helps increase the level of competition in Grand Cayman for the elite females.
“The main objective is to improve the pace of the game. The local leagues are a different pace,” he said.
“At the national level, the players don’t have time to think too much. The pace of the boys allowed us to work on those points.”
There will be more games against boys sides right up to the Miami fixtures. He also hopes to take the squad on tour later this summer.
With so many players away at school, Cuhna said it is vital to get as much match practice as possible while the core of the squad is together during the summer months.
Hosting the CONCACAF tournament is a rare opportunity for Cayman, and will see some of the best players in the region here. But Cunha backs his side to do well.
“In football, when the referee blows the whistle everybody has a chance. I hope the opponents are thinking we don’t have a chance, because we have been surprising a lot of people since 2003.”
He said all of the players are proud to represent the country and have excelled in previous tournaments.