Blake welcomes others as hosts

One of Cayman’s top football figures wants more local entities involved at an organizational level. 

Cayman is bracing for this week’s C3 Cayman International Youth Football Tournament, with Grasspiece Promotions serving as tournament organizers. Bruce Blake serves as the vice president of the Cayman Islands Football Association and said the competition should encourage residents to follow Grasspiece. 

“It’s good that private sector entities can organize these level of tournaments,” Blake said. “Most times people think it should be the association or FIFA. Coming off our Under-15 tournament, it’s good to have another major tournament coming up. The Houston Dynamos sending youngsters here is tremendous and in the coming years we hope to have more teams.  

“It’s an international friendly tournament and it’s good to have as many young people play as possible. It’s a chance for you to get all of the players to play. It’s a good opportunity for Ardin Rivers – our youth technical director – to see as many young players and their development as possible.” 

The tournament takes place starting from Tuesday, Feb. 18, and runs until Saturday, Feb. 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. The Swindon Town youngsters will play Cayman on Tuesday and Houston on Thursday. The final game will be between Cayman and the Dynamo on Saturday. All games are scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be preceded by matches featuring Cayman’s top Under-14 and Under-13 players. 

Government is once again supporting the national sport, chipping in roughly $10,000 for the tournament. The competition 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. 

Blake declined to speculate on the economic impact this week’s showcase will provide. 

“I won’t comment on that, association president Jeffrey Webb is coming this week and he can address that. I don’t want to steal his thunder.” 

The major tournament sponsors are C3 (high-speed Internet, TV and phone), Pepsi, Aquafina and the Ministry of Health, Sports, Youth and Culture. It is being run in association with the Cayman football association and Sunset Football Club. 

The competition figures to highlight local talent based here and abroad. Swindon Town has a handful of players such as Sebastian Martinez, Kray Foster and Nathan Borde. The national Under-15 team features prodigies like Leighton Thomas Jr., Dante Ramoon and Zachary Scott. 

Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden is pleased with the amount of talent on display, saying, “Kray is out due to injury but most of them are there and that’s good to see.” 

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. 

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The CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship took place last month. – PHOTOS: MATTHEW YATES

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Swindon Town is back in Cayman for another year.