The Cayman Islands has scored another massive achievement, by attracting an England national football team for a tournament here in the summer.
The second biennial CONCACAF Boys’ Youth Tournament will see the England team compete with 34 CONCACAF countries to be the next Under-15 champion. That addition makes it the biggest tournament the region has ever hosted.
“Our focus has always been on development and increasing the international exposure for our young players,” said CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb. “Competition this year will be fierce, and there will certainly be stellar performances to watch as England participates with the best of CONCACAF’s talents.”
From Aug. 11-23, teams from the Caribbean and Central and North America will compete in Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Jamaica during the group stage.
The semifinals and finals will be hosted in Grand Cayman. Greg Dyke, chairman of England’s Football Association, said, “On behalf of the FA, we are delighted to accept this invitation.
“An essential part of development football is broadening players’ experience – both on and off the pitch – and giving them the chance to regularly test themselves against different styles and systems. I am sure it will be a great competition and wish all taking part the very best of luck.”
From a local hosting perspective, the Cayman Islands Minister of Sports Osbourne Bodden said, “This tournament is already making history for being the largest of its kind to be hosted in the Cayman Islands.
“To have the English national U-15 team compete adds to its growing status and prestige and is a welcomed addition to the tournament.”
Bodden also said that it is a credit to CONCACAF and to the Cayman Islands “to have developed the capacity to host a tournament of such caliber to attract so many quality teams from across the region and beyond.”
CONCACAF teams scheduled to participate are: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman 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, U.S. Virgin Islands, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Honduras won the inaugural competition two years ago, beating Guatemala 2-1 in the final. Cayman just missed out on reaching the semifinals but at least boasted the tournament’s top scorer in Leighton Thomas Jr., who hit 11 goals.