Development league to stage bowl

Full contact American football is slated to grace these shores. 

The Cayman Islands government is partnering with the Collegiate Development Football League to stage the first annual “Cayman Kickoff Classic” International Scout Bowl. The Truman Bodden Sports Complex is slated to be the venue on Jan. 10, 2015 at 7 p.m. The contest is expected to feature young men from the United States and former National Football League and Canadian Football League players. 

Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell serves as the Minister of Tourism and said the initiative will boost sports tourism efforts. 

“At the Cayman Islands Ministry and Department of Tourism, we believe this is a fantastic opportunity to help facilitate this inaugural American football game,” Kirkconnell said. “The chance to bring such a popular sport to a group of excited fans and young players is a great opportunity for Cayman to promote physical fitness and welcome a group of new visitors to our island.” 

The match is being touted as the first time a proper American football game – with elements such as the associated equipment and full-contact style of play – is being staged on these shores. Over the years, Cayman has always had a passion for the sport but acted on that enthusiasm through local efforts involving its non-contact version, flag football. Among the reasons for flag football emerging as the preferred activity were it being relatively inexpensive and the pursuit being less violent than its full-tackle version. 

This is not the first time Kirkconnell and tourism officials have tried catering to local pigskin enthusiasts. Government partnered with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins to stage youth flag football camps at the T.E. McField Sports Center (commonly called the Annex). That initiative completed its second year back in July, attracting dozens of youngsters aged 6-14. 

An interesting aspect of next year’s spectacle will be the role of the American groups associated with the development league – Team America and St. Lawrence Sports International. Team members and coaches are slated to host a clinic for local athletes to teach relevant skills and evaluate talent here.  

The league serves as a scouting option for young men aged 18-24 – that have been stifled by injuries, financial limitations and lack of exposure – to chase collegiate and professional football opportunities. It stages numerous exhibition games each year, with the three main contests involving athletes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. They are the Football Championship Subdivision Senior Scout Bowl in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; the Division Three Senior Classic in Salem, Virginia and the Division Two versus National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Senior Bowl in Middletown, New York. 

The league has a track record of sending young men on to professional teams in Europe, the CFL and NFL. The most recent example is tight-end Kyle Auffray, who was signed this summer by the Oakland Raiders. 

League and Team America cofounder George St. Lawrence says the Cayman trip represents a chance to broaden American football’s international reach. 

“This game has great support from the Ministries of Tourism and Sports of the Cayman Islands,” St. Lawrence said. “We are excited to be part of the Cayman Islands family and we’re looking forward to interacting with the Caymanian people, players and fans in a positive cultural exchange through football.” 

Dolphins-Youth-Football

The Miami Dolphins have staged youth camps here for two years. – PHOTO: MATTHEW YATES

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