Another young Caymanian is off to London to pursue his dream of becoming a professional football player.
Jiffon Robinson, 15, set off last week after securing a development contract with Barnet Football Club’s Youth Academy.
Barnet is in north London and competes in the English FA’s League Two, the fourth tier.
Robinson was scouted while playing with the Cayman Islands national team during the Cayman Airways Invitational Youth Cup in May.
Excel Sports Management, a local football development company headed by Academy Sports Club’s technical director Virgil Seymour, brought over professional scouts for the tournament and Robinson stood out to several.
Henry Newman, academy director at Barnet, said, “Jiffon’s speed and physicality are well matched to our style of play. We look forward to getting him over to London to join our academy program.”
Robinson’s mother Glaney Tatum-Robinson is very excited for her son’s future. She always knew he was a talented footballer, but worried he would end up like so many before him, frustrated and discouraged with local football.
“We’re very grateful to ESM for the opportunity they have provided for Jiffon,” she said. “It’s not an easy road ahead for him, but he is ready for the challenge and we are going to do everything we can to support him from home.” She traveled to London with her son to help him settle in.
His father Jiffo Robinson is no stranger to local football and understands how important this type of opportunity can be for a talented youngster.
“I am so proud of my son and so excited for him,” he said. “As a father, it’s your dream to see your child go further than you did. This is a wonderful opportunity and I am very grateful to Virgil Seymour and his vision for our youth players.”
Seymour, who is also director of ESM, said, “We have talent here, but we don’t have a domestic league that provides enough competition for continued development for them.
“It’s not ideal for a boy at 15 to leave family and friends, but if they want to take their football to the next level, it is unfortunately what has to happen.”
Seymour started ESM as a way to ensure that Cayman football was protected. “Everywhere in the world football is a business, and what I was starting to see were people coming into Cayman, making money off our players and taking that money back out of the country with them,” he said.
“I wanted to start a company that could serve local footballers and promote the development from within, while ensuring there was reinvestment back into our football communities.”
Robinson will train with Barnet’s academy at their training grounds. He will also attend high school full time. His goal is to work hard this year and secure a scholarship and move up to the Youth Under-18 team next summer. Robinson knows he only has one year and he is ready to make the most of it.
He attended John Gray High School and honed his skills while playing for Academy Sports Club over the past four years.
For more information about ESM, contact [email protected]