One of world football’s most powerful men expects local girls to generate seven-figure interest in these islands.
Caymanian Jeffrey Webb serves as the president of the Confederation of Central American and Caribbean Association Football and a FIFA vice president. Webb said in his press conference last Thursday that the upcoming Under-20 women’s tournament will generate more money than any other tournament held in the Cayman Islands.
“There’s different ways to look at it, the Under-15 boys’ impact,” Webb said. “From the investment standpoint, it was $3.2 million and that went directly into the hotel industry and that was huge for the country. When you look at the media support/coverage, the U15s received $2.4 million in advertising value. There was $5 million worth of website views/Internet traffic.
“This tournament will have live TV with ‘Fox Sports’ carrying all the U.S. women’s games. What this will mean for the girls tournament is…I estimate about $12 million to $15 million in advertising.”
Cayman hosts the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championships on Jan. 9-19, 2014. Eight teams will compete at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex for the top three finishes and berths into the Women’s Under-20 World Championship next August in Canada. Defending champions United States were drawn in Group A along with Guatemala, Jamaica and Costa Rica. Hosts Cayman are in Group B against Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras and Mexico.
The Under-20 competition comes about five months after Cayman hosted the CONCACAF Under-15 Boys Championship. Honduras emerged victorious over Guatemala with El Salvador placing third. Cayman was narrowly eliminated in the group stages, after winning four of its five matches – defeating St. Maarten, 12-0; U.S. Virgin Islands, 4-0; Bahamas, 3-1; and Aruba, 4-2. The only loss was to Bermuda, 3-0, the eventual fourth-place team.
In all, the tournament featured more than 400 players between the ages of 13 and 15 at Grand Cayman’s various football venues. National teams from 24 member associations competed in Cayman, making it the largest CONCACAF competition of its kind to be played in a single country. It created a multimillion dollar boost to the economy during low season for local tourism.
That event also benefited from government support, something Webb – who reportedly met with the premier and government to discuss funding – says will be missing from the women’s spectacle.
“I was advised due to the new budget, there will be no funding for the team. We asked for a stipend and it’s disappointing. I’m hopeful it’s not what lies ahead in the future.”
There has been substantial support for the tournament by the private sector, with the likes of Fidelity, Dart Cayman Islands and WestStar among the major corporate sponsors. Dart representative Kathy Jackson said supporting the team was a way of increasing the profile of female athletes.
“At Dart, we didn’t have to think long and hard to be part of football,” Jackson said. “We know thousands of kids are touched by football. For us it was about saying yes in all the right places and ways. Women in sports don’t get all the attention men do. Our commitment to youth and sports go hand-in-hand. The Under-20 and Under-17 girls have shown commitment over the years and our commitment is not just for this tournament but throughout the year. So we’ll be seeing where this path goes.”