Dolphins made another splash

The Miami Dolphins returned to Cayman to give the burgeoning youth flag football scene a boost and for two days the kids enjoyed learning the game’s basics from the pro coaches.  

The second annual Miami Dolphins camp for boys and girls aged between 6-14 was on Tuesday and Wednesday at the T.E. McField Annex. 

It was a collaboration between the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and the National Football League’s Dolphins. Former Miami pros, such as Sam Madison, Oronde Gadsden and Troy Drayton were back to lead the sessions. 

Former player and Dolphins Senior Director of Community Affairs Twan Russell made fitness a priority this time. 

“Last year’s camp was a great success and we experienced first-hand the excitement that the local children had for the game of football,” he said.  

It was oversubscribed last year and this week had to be scaled down, but it was great value at $50 for two days.  

It focused on football training, team building and the importance of education. The goal was for kids to develop skills that will help them succeed on and off the field. 

The Department of Tourism began working with the Dolphins two years ago, intending to spread awareness of the islands as a travel destination, while also increasing Cayman’s knowledge of football and improving youth fitness. That worked as several children came from the U.S. with their families and visited plenty of tourist attractions as well.  

Government officials, including Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, was pleased with the turnout.  

This was the third visit the Dolphins made and momentum is building.  

The blend of gridiron tuition and tourism promotion worked perfectly, according to Courtney Baker, who is manager of partnership observation for the Dolphins.  

On Tuesday, they did drills and learned the fundamentals before playing some games on Wednesday.  

“The kids love it,” Baker said. “They are super excited to learn about football and to meet our seven alumni that we’ve brought down. 

“This is a lot of difference for the former players, exercise and a lot of sweat and they love it too.” 

Baker said she hopes the locals will be hooked on the game and become life-long Dolphins fans.  

“I know the Dolphins are popular down here and we love spreading the word and teaching the youth how to be good teammates, be responsible and get good exercise and stay healthy as well.” 

Baker expects the camp to pique the interest in flag football even more. She said that last year they went to one of the flag games and although no future Superbowl winner was spotted, “you never know where the talent may sprout from.” 

Her sightseeing in Grand Cayman included the Turtle Farm, Stingray City and Starfish Point and on Thursday they are excited about going to Dolphin Discovery.  

Russell said there was a bigger contingent from the U.S. this time so the camps are having a positive effect in that sense.  

“That’s always exciting because it’s great for the Cayman Islands,” he said. “The local kids came here understanding what to expect, whereas last year for the first time they learned about football. They want a deeper understanding of the game.” 

He was an outside linebacker with the Dolphins for three years and played in the NFL for a total of seven.  

He added that the people here are “fantastic” and thinks that Cayman’s beaches “are the best in the world.”  

The coaches got to snorkel and enjoy “the crystal clear waters,” Russell said.  

He is enjoys the relationship the Dolphins are building with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. 

“I hope this camp can be a long-term event. It certainly helps the Cayman economy and promotes the game of football so everybody wins.”  

In best PR mode, he added that a couple of kids who may have a soccer background impressed the coaches because they are natural athletes. 

“There are some very talented, fast kids here. They just have to have the opportunity and need to be around the game of football. They are being introduced and you never know…”  

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The Miami Dolphins camp made a big impact on the kids. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD

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There was no shortage of laughter.

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