Support for youth football tournament
The Cayman Islands government continues to show its support for the national sport.
Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden said that government is providing a five-figure boost to the staging of next week’s C3 Cayman International Youth Football Tournament. In a recent press conference about the competition, Bodden added that public funding should be at a smaller level to that of the private sector.
“We’re giving around $10,000 between two ministries,” Bodden said. “It’s crucial and we take our role seriously. It can’t always be CIFA (the Cayman Islands Football Association) or FIFA, who we’ve given a good amount to. It has to be others involved. Government can only do so much within the confines of the budget. Others could step up to the plate. We need more like CUC, that continously sponsor the primary football league year after year.
“The games are at the Annex, I have no doubt it can hold up. As minister, I encourage fans to come out.”
The tournament takes place Feb. 18 to 22 at George Town’s T.E. McField Sports Centre, also known as the Annex. It features the youth academies of English League 1 outfit Swindon Town, Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo and a Cayman Select squad – most of whom were part of the national team at the recent CONCACAF Under-15 Championships.
All three teams will compete in a round-robin format. Swindon Town arrives Sunday, Feb. 16, and the Dynamo three days later. The Swindon Town youngsters will play Cayman Tuesday, Feb. 18, and Houston on Feb. 20. The final game will be between Cayman and the Dynamo on Feb. 22. All games are scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be preceded by games featuring Cayman’s top Under-14 and Under-13 players.
Government’s support comes after the staging of the recent CONCACAF Under-15 boys and Under-20 women’s championships in Cayman. Both competitions enjoyed significant government backing and delivered six-figure boosts to the local economy. Bodden said those efforts are part of developing local youth.
“It’s very good to continue the momentum we gained from that. We have kids at Swindon Town. We know they have technical ability, we’ve seen them play. When we allow our kids to grow, we can develop exceptionally good players. I’m happy to see most of the Under-15 team is coming out to play.
“If we do not make sure that we capture the kids during the 13-16 age groups, we tend to lose them to all sorts of things. To other interests or sometimes the vices of life. Then we try to get them back to play senior football. It doesn’t work.
“We need to make sure that this bridge is built and built strongly. It’s something that we have a cross-ministry initiative on now that we’re working hard on to make sure that we put that inter-secondary competition back in place. But the key to it is to recognize that you have an issue and deal with it and that’s what we’re doing.”
The major sponsors are C3 (high-speed Internet, TV and phone), Pepsi, Aquafina and the Ministry of Health, Sports, Youth and Culture. The tournament is run in association with the Cayman Islands Football Association and Sunset Football Club.
Grasspiece Promotions serves as tournament organizers, and representative Bruce Sigsworth addressed government funding.
“We’re thankful to government for the funding and facility,” Sigsworth said. “We wouldn’t be able to do this without that. Cayman has excellent facilities as they stand now.”
Tickets for the tournament are $10 for the three games or $5 per game and are available at the gate. Children under 13 will be charged $1 at the gate.