Phillip Berry is one of the fittest and fastest footballers in the Cayman Islands, despite being one of the oldest players in the league.
Although he is 38, throughout his long and distinguished career Berry has kept in excellent shape, but the Scholars International defender feels it is time to hang up his boots and focus on spending more time with wife Ebony and his other sporting love, skateboarding.
Most teens grow out of the urge to skateboard once they realize it will not bring them the luxurious lifestyle they crave, yet Berry still gets a kick out of it, despite most participants at the skate park in Grand Harbour being teenagers.
“I think it’s time to take a break from football and spend time with my wife and family,” Berry said. “I’m going to keep fit and continue my skateboarding career, trying to help the younger kids go forward.”
The Bodden Town resident first played for his home district, helping the team win the FA Cup for the first time in their history in 2001.
After Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Berry decided he wanted more silverware so joined Scholars, making the weekly drive to West Bay frequently for training and matches.
Joining Scholars gave him fresh impetus. “As well as wanting to win more trophies, the intensity of the training was much higher and focus on matches was much better,” he said.
Scholars won the league, Digicel Cup and FA Cup multiple times in Berry’s decade with them, so fulfillment was accomplished.
Ironically, Bodden Town are now the dominant side in the league. “I think they have a good group of young players coming along,” Berry said. “That is very positive and hopefully they will keep the trend going in the future.”
Professional scouts were rarely seen in Cayman until recently so when Berry was at his peak, he sorted out tryouts for himself abroad. They included trials at Minnesota Thunder, Charlton Battery in Charleston, another side in Indianapolis, and Peterborough in England. Nothing materialized, although he got on the short list at Minnesota Thunder, but he has no regrets.
“Now there are more opportunities for younger guys,” he said. “You can only be young once and can always go back to school but if you get a chance to get that professional career started in football and that’s the best thing you could do, move forward from there.”
His advice to aspiring footballers here is “to be strong both mentally and physically and, overall, your approach to the game has to be professional even though you are only amateur.”
A former Cayman national player with more than 20 caps, the construction engineer for the government enjoyed playing trips to Guadeloupe, St. Vincent, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Martinique, and Puerto Rico.
Colin “Dougie” Rowe is the technical director at Scholars International who has monitored Berry’s career throughout.
“Phillip is a mature, experienced player,” Rowe said. “I used to play with him before I retired from the national team. He has good discipline and character and he has a professional mentality.
“After leaving Bodden Town, he has always been loyal to Scholars. He is generous, works hard and is always punctual. On and off the field, he is a complete athlete.”