The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) has confirmed the teams for the second staging of the CONCACAF Boys’ Under-15 Championship, which will again be held in the Cayman Islands this summer.
Cayman Islands Minister of Sports Osbourne Bodden encouraged the football community and general public to support the tournament, which is expected to bring around 1,000 people to Cayman, boosting local sports tourism revenue.
The tournament runs from Aug. 9-23, and 34 nations from across the region will compete – an increase of over 50 percent in participation levels from the inaugural tournament two years ago. There was only 22 last time.
Organizers say this is an ideal development tournament and opens another rare opportunity for international experience for this age level.
“CONCACAF is proud of the response from its member associations in their commitment towards development,” said CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb.
“Two years ago, the inaugural tournament provided CONCACAF a competitive environment where we observed and thoroughly enjoyed the quality on display from our junior players.”
He added that the U-15 tournament now begins a transition, from a start-up event into a critical step for development.
CONCACAF has added a new dimension by introducing a coaching education program during the tournament.
Interest in this tournament is high across the confederation. Besides Cayman, from the Caribbean region are; Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Saint-Martin, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Central America is represented by Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.
The North American region has Canada, Mexico and the United States.
“We are extremely pleased to be able to host what is anticipated to be the largest ever U-15 CONCACAF football tournament,” said Mr. Bodden. “With 34 teams expected, it will also be the largest ever tournament of its kind to be held in the Cayman Islands. I am particularly pleased that this tournament will be focused on the younger football players.”
Bodden added that hosting the first tournament two years ago injected a new energy into local youth football and he is confident that with the government’s increased financial support of the national football teams, “we will see strong performances from our young players.”
Like the 2014 CONCACAF Girls’ U-15 Championship, which was also staged in Cayman, this year’s competition is provisionally scheduled for venues on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, with teams set to be divided into various groups.
The top sides from each group will qualify for a knockout round which will determine the regional champion at this level.
In 2013, Honduras beat Guatemala 2-1 to capture the inaugural title of the CONCACAF Boys’ U-15 Championship in front of a full house of 3,000 at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
Several Cayman players emerged from that tournament, particularly Leighton Thomas Jr. who top scored in the tournament with 11 goals. He has been for professional trials in England since.
Zachary Scott also impressed and is now at Chelsea Football Club’s foundation school in London.