One year after taking over as director of the Cayman Islands Football Association, Renard Moxam says he is pleased with the direction local football is taking at the national level.
“I am pleased but not surprised,” Moxam said in a statement released by the football association. “I have a great sense of achievement from what was accomplished in the last year, but it is only a small but a credible step in the last 12 months.”
Over the last year, Cayman competed in 15 international matches and ended with a 10-5 record – seven wins, three draws and five losses.
“Those numbers tell you the direction we are going.” Moxam said. “It is going to be hard for anyone to say there is not progress being made in the win/loss column.”
“Mr. Moxam knows what it takes to be successful in this environment,” said Minister of Sports Osbourne Bodden. “When we were approached to partner with CIFA on the restart of a national teams program under the direction of Renard Moxam, the Ministry was well aware of the challenges that such a program faced, but we recognized that for the continued development of what is really our national sport, a vibrant national program was a must.”
In April 2014, Moxam was tasked with rejuvenating Cayman’s national programs at all age levels.
“I understood and believed from the beginning once we put the right fundamentals and principles while reconnecting with the Caymanian footballing public that we would be more successful than we were before,” Moxam said.
His first task was to tackle waning player interest in representing the national team.
“Initially, there was a lack of desire to want to be a part of the national programs. I tried to understand that, decided how best to correct that, and how we could change the environment in which we ask the young players to come and represent the country,” he said.
“One of the first things that I set out to do was to surround myself with good people and we achieved that with the quality of technical people that came on board.”
CIFA has engaged volunteer services of several new and long-serving coaches and administrators to ensure the improvement of the national set-up.
Specifically, Moxam highlighted the involvement of Alban Ruiz, Alex Gonzalez, Lovane “Pelo” Jovan, Graham Rankin, Virgil Seymour, Glenn Whewell, Alan Purvis, Paul Byles, Luis Serra and Manuel Navarro.
National teams have competed in tournaments in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and CONCACAF region.
The national association hosted the inaugural CONCACAF U-15 Girls Championship in 2014 and celebrated a quarterfinals berth by the national team.
The Under 17 Boys team participated in CFU qualifiers in Jamaica. The senior women narrowly missed advancing past the opening round of the CFU qualifiers in Turks and Caicos before hosting the University of New Haven (Connecticut) Chargers.
The Under 20 Boys National Team competed in the CFU Under 20 Boys Championships in Curacao, and the Senior Men’s National team produced an inspiring performance in the FIFA World Cup qualifying.
Led by Abijah Rivers, the team journeyed to Belize and earned a hard-fought goalless draw before surrendering an early first-half lead at home against the visitors for a 1-1 draw. The two hard earned results with much higher ranked Belize ignited optimism with the players and general public. Despite not advancing, the men’s national team moved 14 spots up the latest FIFA rankings.
The team is now preparing for the CONCACAF Boys Under 15 Championship this summer.
“We intend to do well in the U-15 Championships, and get the men’s and women’s past the first round of the Olympic qualifiers,” Moxam said.
“We have divided the region into three categories. One category is islands the same size as the Cayman Islands and we want to get top of that pile. Second group are islands with 200,000 to 300,000 population, compete seriously and get in the top three of those,” he said. “The third step is where we are competing against the best in CFU and CONCACAF. That is our direction.
“We have presented to CIFA a strategic development strategy from a technical standpoint, so the steps have been taken to ensure positive results from competitions that we enter in.
“This is not a quick fix,” Moxam emphasized.
“This is a five- to 10-year project that we are involved in and I think the Cayman Islands Football Association starting from President Webb and the elected officials have indicated that they understand it’s a long-term project that takes time with a lot of hard work and better organization. However, we are up for the challenge and willing to see it through.”
Having laid the groundwork with the team, Moxam is searching for private sector support of the programs.
Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden said government was satisfied that progress had been made over the past year and was committed this program “for the medium term.”
He added, “We will work with CIFA within the limits of our resources to ensure that our national teams continue to grow from strength to strength and achieve their goals and targets in a sustainable manner.”
Moxam emphasized, “The new approach will contribute to assisting in saving our youth [and] building more constructive members of society via sport disciplines.
“The message has to extend to our athletes, through financial support, that we respect you, we respect the time and effort you put into raising the levels of performances befitting of being a national [athlete], international athlete and ambassador of our country.”
Off the field, the football association is continuing development of the facility at the National Training and Development Centre at Prospect and celebrated as CIFA President Jeffrey Webb was re-elected president of CONCACAF, the sport’s governing body in the region.
“CIFA’s national programs, led by Mr. Renard Moxam, have made steady progress over the past year,” Webb said.
“I would like to recognize all those involved in the administration of the program and congratulate them for taking several initiatives to enhance the profile of Cayman football and raise the level of competition. I look forward to the continued advancement in every facet of the game.”