The Cayman Islands hosts the inaugural girls Under-15 CONCACAF tournament in August and a few candidates for squad places were on view in the FA Cup final last Thursday.
Scholars International’s girls U-15s triumphed over Tigers through goals by Sabrina Suberan in the 27th minute, Susani McLaughlin (37th) and Kamaria Whittaker (46th) at the TE McField Annex. Jennifer Licona scored for Tigers in the 35th minute.
Scholars were generally bigger and stronger than Tigers, who showed a lot of heart under the coaching of Walter Hernandez whose daughter Monique had an excellent match.
Overall, it was a fast, entertaining game with some flashes of brilliance, mostly by Scholars and especially by Suberan and Whittaker, who tormented the Tigers defense throughout.
Scholars were coached by Kaela Ebanks who at 17 is only a couple of years older than her charges. Midfielder Ebanks is a national team regular and captain of the Scholars senior side. It was a real family celebration because Scholars manager is her mother Lucille Parchment.
Ebanks took over coaching duties from Jetena Bodden, who is a national team player too.
“Seeing how Jetena excelled and succeeded last season, I thought that coming up as a player, I wanted to do that,” Ebanks said. She had an extremely hectic football period last week, having just returned from a tournament with the women’s national side in Turks and Caicos the night before.
Cayman lost 5-0 to St. Kitts and Nevis in their opening Caribbean Football Union Caribbean Cup game, then drew 2-2 with tournament favorites Bermuda and beat the host nation 3-0.
Ebanks puts the opening game defeat down to being over confident.
“When we started playing against St. Kitts and Nevis, it was a shocker,” she said. “We kind of a had a plan but it was already too late to regroup because they already had us down.
“Going into the Bermuda game we knew it would be tough and our mindset was way different. Although we were down by two, we didn’t change our plan and got a good result. The next game, we went in harder and won.”
Renard Moxam is the recently appointed director of national teams. He went on the Turks trip and, although Cayman did not advance to the second round, he thought it was a “fantastic experience for all the girls.”
Moxam added that, from a technical standpoint, it served its purpose towards building a strong senior national women’s team after seven years of not competing.
He identified around eight players who will be the nucleus of the side in the future.
Cayman women’s seniors have a couple of friendlies approaching as preparation for the Olympic qualifiers in August.
As for potential U-15 national players from the FA Cup final, Moxam saw a few players who have the potential to be in the U-15 CONCACAF tournament in a couple of months.
“I saw a lot of enthusiasm, youthfulness and strength and willingness to run from a physical standpoint, but there’s much work to be done from a technical development standpoint.”