The region’s biggest international youth football tournament gets under way in Grand Cayman from Tuesday.
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football kicks off the inaugural CONCACAF Under-15 Championship.
The tournament will be contested by the national teams of 24 member associations, making it the largest CONCACAF competition of its kind to be played in a single country.
“The only way to develop players is to coach them and afford them opportunities to compete,” said CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb. “This tournament was conceived to intensify our efforts while helping to identify and develop talent that will eventually create future champions.”
The tournament is an initiative of Webb, who values the need to develop football at the youth level.
The annual Under-15 Championship will strengthen the love of the game among youngsters and foster a commitment to the sport that will grow along with them.
This championship will be held in three sites in Grand Cayman until 25 August.
The tournament will bring together more than 400 players between the ages of 13-15, allowing them a first experience at higher level football on a regional stage.
“This tournament is a great developmental experience for local football teams and we thank CONCACAF and Jeffrey Webb for having the foresight to bring this level tournament to fruition and for also selecting the Cayman Islands as the host country for the inaugural event,” said Cayman Islands Minister of Sports Osbourne Bodden. “In addition to the sporting benefits, this tournament will bring roughly 700 players and officials to the island during low-season for tourism here, resulting in a win-win for the country.”
Countries that will be competing in the tournament include Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Martin, St. Maarten, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the US Virgin Islands.
For first-round play, the squads have been drawn into four groups of six teams. Each team will play the others once for a total of five games.
The group winners will advance to the semi-finals on 23 August at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. The match for third place and the final will all take place two days later at the same venue.