Cayman’s best women footballers have been preparing for the biggest test of their young lives since the female program was initiated by Bernie Bush soon after Hurricane Ivan hit.
Now they hope to storm to a top three finish when another big tournament is hosted here in the new year.
Cayman Islands drew Mexico on Jan. 10 in its Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football Under-20 Women’s Championship opener.
The Westin hosted the tournament draw and logo unveiling on Tuesday with Jeffrey Webb, who is a FIFA vice-president, president of CONCACAF and Cayman Islands Football Association president there. Sports minister Osbourne Bodden also spoke at the event.
Cayman are seeded into Group B with Mexico, Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago. Group A includes defending champion United States, Guatemala, Jamaica and Costa Rica.
The tournament kicks off with round-robin play within the two groups over the first six match days. The top two teams from the groups advance to the semi-finals.
The tournament’s top three finishers move on to the Under-20 World Cup.
The tournament is set for Jan. 9-19 and all matches will be played at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
Martha Godet, technical director of Cayman’s U-20 team, said: “We have a tough group but it would not have been easy whoever we drew.
“We’re really looking forward to the challenge and hope that through our great team spirit we can do well.”
She said that preparations are going well with the women training six days a week with their club teams as well as national squad training. It includes fitness, strength and technical training. They hope to go away for a week long training camp at the end of November or early December.
They have been playing against boys youth teams.
As the tournament starts soon after Christmas, Godet and the other coaches have been impressing the girls on the importance of keeping disciplined with their nutrition.
“This is an issue we have been mentally preparing them about,” she said. “This is no time to party. Thankfully, they are very focused.
“We will also have our overseas players coming down at the end of this month to play against a local select team.”