Elite Sports Club announced at the start of the football season their intention to regain their dominance as Cayman’s premiere team and so far have lived up to that claim.
Elite go into the Christmas break at the top of the Premier League with 23 points, one ahead of Cayman Athletic with Scholars International third on 18 points and reigning champs Bodden Town fourth on 17.
The openness of the league has been refreshing so far and expectations are that it will go down to the wire.
Benjamin Cupid is a stalwart defender with Elite and he is not surprised that they have revived the sort of form that made them so difficult to built not so long ago.
He puts the improvement down to great team spirit, new players gelling quickly and working exceptionally hard in training four nights a week.
They have a new trainer in Ramon “Pollo” Calderon a Honduran who despite not speaking English fluently gets his points across through the side’s Spanish speakers.
Elite were all-conquering until a couple of years ago when the Bodden Town youngsters matured and became Cayman’s dominant side.
Cupid puts Elite’s slide down to a number of factors, including losing a few players to other teams and senior players like him going off to the U.S. to study.
“We were fifth in the league last year which was disappointing, we’re better than that,” Cupid said. “We don’t want to be there again. We want to be at least top three.
“We’re in first place now, but it’s still early. We’re not taking anyone lightly, nor being complacent. We’re only one point ahead.”
At least they won the FA Cup last term, which lifted spirits.
Cupid, 26, is happy with his own form at right back although he admits his conditioning could be higher.
Elite missed Jairo Sanchez at the start of the season, a legacy of a red card at the end of the last campaign. Firmly ensconced in midfield now, his flair, combative spirit and deadly free-kicks add an extra dimension to the side.
“Sanchez is our play-maker in midfield,” said Cupid. “He makes all the big passes and is a key player to help us to harden the team.”
Cupid also gives credit to captain Abijah Rivers in defense and their sharp striking duo of Mark Ebanks and Dwayne “Gaza” Wright and a couple of excellent young newcomers. One of them is Jameal Welcome and newcomer Alejandro Ruiz has added an extra dimension on the left.
“After Christmas we don’t want to drop any points at all,” said Cupid. “We want to separate ourselves from the pack and give ourselves some kind of cushion.”
Players from other teams that have impressed Cupid the most include the Cayman Athletic striker David Connolly who tops the goal scorers with 12, Athletic captain Matthew Suberan, James “Paddy” Ebanks of Scholars and Theron Wood, Bodden Town’s skillful striker.
After the break, Elite play in the first round of the President’s Cup Cayman Athletic. “We’re going in with the mindset that we can do it,” Cupid said. “We don’t train so hard for nothing, because we’re not getting paid for it. We do it because we love it.”