The junior rugby program is flourishing in Cayman, which bodes well for the future considering how small the pool is here.
Dave Clancy is the strength and conditioning coach for the many programs, and every Saturday morning he is at the rugby club in South Sound ensuring the kids, aged froms 4 to 16, are developing nicely.
The Maples sponsored junior academy has just added the Under-19s to the group in preparation for a U-19s tournament in Orlando in July.
Clancy acknowledges that this crop of U-19s are relatively young and inexperienced, and “it’s about bringing these guys through so that we can do it again.”
He added, “We’ve got some really good players coming through at the moment, the only thing against them is their size, physical attributes.”
He said the junior program is “exceptional” with “top class coaching.”
The older boys doing strength and fitness workouts with Clancy are joined by the 13- and 14-year-olds.
“We’ve got such a small pool of players in Cayman, the only way we can be competitive with countries with bigger pools is to give them high performance training from an early age.”
He added that they are lucky not to have to go through the talent identification process that bigger countries find necessary, since Cayman players are selected almost by default.
Strength and conditioning programs in bigger nations are usually not introduced until their late teens, Clancy said, but Caymanian youngsters get that as soon as they enter the sport.
“Seeing the change in their movements, their speed and general development through the years, for me is very exciting.”
He added that the improvement in the U-12s from last year is inspiring.
Clancy still plays for the Advance Fire & Plumbing Buccaneers and is now qualified to train Caymanians to become coaches themselves, which will ease his workload. “I’ve now got volunteers for conditioning coaches for the 10- and 12-year-olds as well as women. They’ve all been through the course and got international recognition. It’s really growing, and eventually I hope to be overseeing it and get local people doing this with the kids.”