Local footballers have never had so much choice to indulge in their beloved sport.
The Cayman Islands Football Association has created many leagues and national teams in recent months and is hosting or taking part in enough international tournaments to ensure players can play throughout the year.
Now, with the advent of beach football, there will be no traditional close season in the summer. This weekend saw the successful staging of the inaugural Pirates Week Beach Soccer Open Cup at Public Beach.
A total of 13 male and four female players participated on two pitches at the recently reconfigured site.
Beach football has not really had a suitable venue before because there were no open spaces for it, but that has changed. Hundreds came out to watch and play. Tiny children kept themselves amused with provided activities.
In the women’s final, Scholars beat Sunrise 2-1 and Gunners won the men’s competition, beating Strikers 3-1.
Coach Gillie Seymour had the biggest smile afterwards because the Gunners comprised mostly of players from his Cayman Athletic side and their captain was his best player, Matthew Suberan.
All in all, it was a great family affair. Melanie McField, executive director of Pirates Week, said, “I couldn’t have asked for a more successful tournament with all the teams and great spectator participation. The atmosphere was excellent and the weather held up, which we were a bit concerned about. I’m truly happy with how it all turned out.”
McField added that Pirates Week is holding a series of fundraising events to ensure their standards are not compromised and this was a highly successful one.
She thanked all sponsors, the main ones being Budweiser, CIFA, Pepsi, Aquafina, Davenport, Radio Cayman, Red Bull, Star 92.7 and Fast Signs.
Bruce Blake, first vice-president of CIFA, was also pleased with how it all went.
“I’d like to thank the Pirates Week organizers for all their efforts in assisting us,” he said. “They’re the ones that brought the idea to us and we assisted them in organizing the tournament.”
He also thanked all the volunteers, sponsors and officials.
Blake said that there was a lot of excitement and revealed that a summer league is starting soon in preparation for international tournaments.
So many football programs are being introduced or expanded that there will be far more opportunities for players of all ages and levels, including for females.
“We do have a vibrant football culture in Cayman with a lot of leagues running and we now participate and host many international tournaments,” Blake said.
He feels that the increased choice through the beach format, as well as regular 11-a-side, will appeal to a wider spectrum.
CIFA will be launching its Under-20 national team soon and also reintroducing senior national games after a three-year hiatus.
“In the next four or five months, I think we will have a full slate of age-group national teams ready to represent Cayman any time,” he said.
With beach football, Blake said that the intention is to attract players who are more interested in that format.
“We want a new breed of players, administrators and referees,” he said. “There are a few modifications to be done but Dart has been working with us – and the government too – and eventually we will get the site ready to host an international tournament some time next year.”