Local football has a new director to help raise the standards of all the national teams.
The Cayman Islands Football Association has appointed Renard Moxam as director of National Teams to oversee programs to identify the best national talent.
Mr. Moxam was Cayman’s first professional footballer in 1979 when signed by the Toronto Blizzard in the North American Soccer League.
He has coached Cayman’s youngsters over three decades and has served as a director on the Academy Sports Club board.
“We are certain that Mr. Moxam’s vast experience and passion for the game will strongly benefit our aim of developing a world-class national program,” said Cayman Islands Football Association President Jeffrey Webb.
“His achievements inspired me and an entire generation, and we know he will shape the future of generations to come.”
Mr. Moxam said, “I want to say thanks to CIFA and in particular to Jeff Webb for this opportunity in making positive contributions and assisting in shaping the lives of our young people through football.”
He added, “There is a need for improvements from technical, tactical, physical and mental perspectives for our country to acquire equal regional recognition as a footballing country.”
Mr. Webb said Mr. Moxam’s appointment replaces the old technical director’s job, which has not been filled since coach Carl Brown’s contract ended in December 2011. Since then no men’s national senior games have been played.
After playing for the Toronto Blizzard, Mr. Moxam returned to Cayman where he founded Island Companies in 1978 with John Rea. It grew from a small sports store to one of the largest retailers in the Cayman Islands, with 18 duty-free stores in Grand Cayman.
In 1986, the company name was changed to Island Clothing Company and a third shareholder, a Caymanian, Lee Aronfeld, joined the company.
By 1993, the company name was changed again to Island Companies Ltd. which in 2004 began a new partnership with Dart Management Ltd. Last year, Mr. Moxam relinquished ownership of the company to Dart to concentrate on football projects.
Mr. Moxam’s new job is broader than just technical aspects of the game. He will be allowed to solicit funding, generate sponsorship, and coach corporate management staff as well as technical staff. Mr. Moxam said he will be drawing on his business contacts to try to get football funding.
Nurturing young talent
The emphasis of the Cayman Islands Football Association in recent years has been to nurture grass-roots and youth football so that when the young players become adults, the senior side will be more competitive.
Female players too are getting opportunities to aspire to high levels of play, and junior players, including Chelsea Green and Amanda Frederick, will greatly benefit from the new initiatives. Both played in the Women’s Under-20 CONCACAF tournament here in January, showing immense potential.
The youth policy seems to be working as youngsters, including Ryan Jackson and Leighton Thomas Jr., are on tryouts in Europe, and several players are already at professional academies and on football scholarships in Europe and the U.S. The best example is Sebastian Martinez at Swindon Town’s academy in the U.K. Swindon is in England’s third-tier league.
Mr. Webb acknowledged that plenty of youngsters want to be top pros, but only about 1 percent make it to that level. For most, the dream of being a star player remains just that.
He added that last year’s U-15 boys who performed well at the inaugural CONCACAF tournament here have now graduated to U-17 level and are coming on well.
He also explained that development of the Centre for Excellence in Prospect has had enormous drainage problems but that has been sorted out by raising the playing level and laying artificial, hard-wearing surfaces only for national teams to practice on.
Consensus with the CIFA administration is that the improvement in youth leagues’ standards has the danger of the best players eventually being based elsewhere.
Mr. Webb relishes that situation and uses the examples of neighboring countries like Honduras and Costa Rica, whose national teams play at a high level and regularly qualify for World Cup finals mainly because their best players are based in some of the world’s top leagues in Europe and South America.