West Bay-based Scholars celebrate Premier League title

Scholars International are the winners of the 2014-2015 Cayman Islands Premier League title. 

The West Bay community-based club replaces Bodden Town F.C. as kings of club football in the Cayman Islands. 

“As the oldest club in the league, we are excited about winning the championship,” said long-serving club president Cline Glidden. 

“I would like to thank the coaches and the players who worked very hard to win the league championship, and all of us on the Scholars Executive are very proud of them and our very loyal supporters who have supported us throughout our many years.” 

Scholars International have a history of success at the club level in Cayman Islands Football and have produced many Cayman Islands international players. 

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However, the Premier League trophy was missing from the club’s list of achievements. 

“Congratulations to all of the Scholars International players and staff,” said CIFA Vice President Bruce Blake. 

“I am pleased to see the team, which I grew up watching, back at the top of the Cayman Premier League and glad to see that they will be participating in the 2016 CFU club championship.” 

Scholars topped the 21-week Premier League season with 43 points, eight ahead of neighbors Elite Sports Club. 

“Finishing top of the CIFA Premier League has brought an immense amount of satisfaction to the players, staff, and supporters of Scholars ISC,” said team captain Tom Elliot. 

“We had most of the ingredients for a successful team but struggled to cope with the retirement of some core players and the burden it placed on some of our upcoming youth. 

“The players and coaching staff knuckled down and by the Christmas period we’d built up some momentum – we haven’t looked back since.” 

Elliot, a veteran defender highlighted his team’s resilience to overcome a moderate start to the season and end on an unbeaten 14-game streak, with 10 wins and four draws. 

“We’ve gone on a run, with every squad member playing their part. Winning the league is every footballer’s goal, but achieving this with a solid crop of younger players is something we’re all particularly proud of,” Elliot said. 

Scholars International was bolstered by the signing of striker Rolly Bodden from Savannah Tigers in January. 

In five months, Bodden notched an impressive 15 goals to finish second in the goal scoring behind David Connolly of Cayman Athletic. 

Scholars International head coach Colin Rowe heaped praise on Bodden. 

“Rolly came in at the right time, executed well, gelled with the team and isn’t afraid of work,” said Rowe. “We played to his strengths and he delivered.” 

Regarding the team’s success, Rowe added, “It was a hard journey with the players we have. It is a great group mixed with youth and experience, and our players got the job done. I must congratulate the entire coaching staff and the 22 players.” 

As champions, Scholars International have qualified for the Caribbean Football Union Club Championships in 2016, a qualifier for the CONCACAF Champions League competition, the region’s qualifier for the FIFA Club World Cup. 

Captain Elliot said his team has to step up a few levels in order to be ready to face regional opposition. 

“Everyone at the club is excited to be given the chance of representing CIFA and the Cayman Islands, and we are thankful for the opportunity,” he said.  

FIFA President Sepp Blatter sent personal congratulations to Scholars International on their Premier League success. 

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Captain Tom Elliot has led Scholars International to Premier League victory. – PHOTO: RON SHILLINGFORD
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