Blatter and Yorke on their way

Some of the biggest and most influential names in world football are soon coming to the Cayman Islands for a sports summit. 

Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, the FIFA president, and former Trinidad and Tobago 2006 World Cup finals captain Dwight Yorke are among the distinguished guests who will be here for the one-day conference.  

Blatter, 77, was last here four years ago for the opening of the Cayman Islands Football Association offices in Prospect.  

The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) is holding the sports summit on Oct. 22.  

The principal objective is to foster relationships between governments and football federations to develop the sport in the region.  

The theme of the summit is Transformation through Partnership. It outlines social and economic development as well as sports tourism opportunities. 

“CONCACAF will assemble all stakeholders to better understand and maximize the potential for strong partnership and cooperation between government authorities and federations,” said CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb, a Caymanian businessman and also a FIFA vice-president. 

The summit features the participation of ministers of sport and presidents of all 41 member associations from the CONCACAF region who will be part of a day-long agenda featuring keynote speakers such as Blatter and Randolph Horton. 

Horton is a former footballer and cricketer from Bermuda who is currently speaker of the house of assembly in Bermuda. 

Yorke, 42 next month, played for a variety of clubs in England and is best remembered for making his name as a striker at Aston Villa before moving to Manchester United where he won an array of trophies, including the Champions League, in 1999.  

Other VIPs here will include the UNAIDS senior advisor to the executive director, Djibril Diallo, Hassan Abdullah Al-Thawadi, who is the CEO of the supreme committee FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and Dr. Danny Jordaan, CEO of the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010. 

“We are honored to have gathered such distinguished speakers to offer their unique contribution on the power of football as a tool for social, cultural and economic development,” said Webb.  

“We are certain this inaugural sports summit will enhance the discussion towards an improved strategy for the future of sports in the region.” 

All stakeholders, together with famed soccer figures from around the world, will exchange their experience and knowledge on various topics.  

They include the impact of football on societies, including health, education and crime prevention and the economic legacies of football such as sports tourism and from hosting events.  

There will also be an opportunity for players and coaches to air their perspectives on how the game has changed their lives and can change those of others. 

The sports summit will emphasize CONCACAF’s process of reform to establish a strong foundation that will grow the sport from grassroots to world-class competition levels. 

This seminar is another coup for Cayman following the recent CONCACAF Under-15 tournament held here and a coaching course soon after, plus the fact that the CONCACAF women’s U-20 tournament will be held here in January.  

Cayman’s footballers will be inspired by Yorke’s visit as he was plucked from obscurity in Trinidad and Tobago as a 16-year-old when Villa were touring there and given a dream chance at the sport’s elite level.  

The Maples Grassroots program for the tiniest kids is well underway and junior football is buoyant as a result of the U-15 CONCACAF tournament and more opportunities for teenagers and aspiring pros abroad.  

Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, the FIFA president, and former Trinidad and Tobago 2006 World Cup finals captain Dwight Yorke are among the distinguished guests who will be here for a one-day conference.  

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Cayman’s youngsters will be inspired by so many world football figures visiting. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD
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