The much-awaited football season kicks off Sunday with two Charity Shield games.
The showcase matches will pitch Sunset’s dominant women’s side against Scholars International in the first game at the TE McField Annex at 5 p.m. Last season’s Premier League men’s champs Scholars International take on Cayman Athletic, who won the FA Cup, at 7 p.m.
Scholars men have one of the tightest defenses in the league and they will have to be on their toes throughout because of Athletic’s brilliant striker David “Chunky D” Connolly, last season’s top scorer.
Connolly has been knocking in goals since his primary school days which is why he loves football so much. “I get to express my feelings and show people what I’m truly good at,” he said, adding that Athletic expect another successful season.
“I think we might do well after being close to relegation for two seasons before winning the FA Cup and placing third in the Premier League last term.”
Connolly was prolific last season, scoring 22 league goals, two in the President’s Cup, five in the FA Cup and 16 in the Under-23 league.
Athletic hope he finds the net often before Christmas, because in the new year he is off to Kansas to study medical assistance at Northwest Kansas Technical College on a full scholarship.
As he is not going to be here for most of this campaign, Connolly does not have any personal objectives but hopes to help put his team in the top three in the league and contribute to them retaining the FA Cup in the early rounds.
The 20-year-old Caymanian tries to emulate Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Paris Saint-Germain striker, “because he scores a lot of goals whichever league he goes to and it’s hard for a striker to go anywhere in Europe and score a lot of goals.”
Connolly supports Barcelona and Manchester City, and in addition to Ibrahimovic his favorite players are Leo Messi and Sergio Aguero.
As a kid, Connolly tried to copy David Beckham’s wonderful curling free kicks. “I would always go to the Annex and try to be like him back in my primary school days.”
Connolly predicts the top local teams this season will be Scholars, Elite Sports Club and Athletic. “I think Elite are going to win the President’s Cup again. I back us to retain the FA Cup and I think Scholars are going to be league champions again.”
Connolly expects this season’s top marksmen to be Bodden Town’s Theron Wood, Dwayne “Gaza” Wright (Elite), Mark Ebanks (Elite) and Rolly Bodden (Scholars).
The local players Connolly most admires are Damalay Howell (Scholars), Athletic captain Matthew Suberan, Michael Johnson (Future), Andres Ruiz (Academy) and Ernie Jacques (Athletic).
The defenders he has the toughest battles with are Scholars captain Tom Elliot and Elite skipper Abijah Rivers. Talented youngsters Connolly expects to shine are teammates Christopher Ebanks, Martin Webb, Jamaal Seymour and Joshewa Frederick, as well as Bodden Town’s Wesley Robinson and Karl Solomon.
Cayman players put in a lot of training during the week and devote plenty of time on match days, and Connolly believes they deserve to receive “a little salary at the end of the week” from the Cayman Islands Football Association.
He would also like to see more training camps for the younger boys, more corporate sponsorship for teams and generally more support from the public.