Boys, girls football teams gain experience in Las Vegas tournament

Kareem Foster, center, scored two of the team’s four goals in the 2016 Mayor’s Cup International Showcase.

The Under 16 team from the Cayman Islands Youth Football Program and the Alliance FC Under 17 girls team gained valuable experience last weekend while competing in the 2016 Mayor’s Cup International Showcase in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The boys team, playing under the name Cayman Select, returned with a record of one win, one draw and two losses, finishing in second place in Bracket 7 in the Under 16 Generation Adidas group.

This was the fourth year in a row that the team competed in the popular tournament in Nevada and the first year in the Under 16 division.

The girls team also played under the name Cayman Select. They lost their three group stage games in Bracket 7 in the Under 17 Chapman Auto group and their consolation game. This was the first trip to the tournament by a girls team from the Cayman Islands.

The Under 16 boys traveling squad consisted of 22 players, six staff members – including three coaches, a manager and physiotherapist – along with a number of parents. The boys were under the tutelage of head coach Ernie “Gillie” Seymour, assistant coaches Ken Downey and Antwan Seymour, who is also the manager.

Although a little disappointed with the boys’ results, Seymour was positive about the experience. “Much like last year, the games we lost were very evenly contested, and if we had cut down on mistakes and finished our chances, we could have won those games and the game we drew and advanced to the quarter-finals.

“The boys need to understand the importance of preparation and playing consistently when involved in tournaments such as this.”

He added special thanks to the coaches “who continue to work tirelessly in preparing this team for not only this tournament, but for what’s ahead. Many of these players will be representing their country in this summer’s CFU Under 17 World Cup Playoffs, so we know that this experience will be beneficial in their individual preparations.”

The Mayor’s Cup International Showcase is one of two annual soccer tournaments co-hosted by the Downtown Las Vegas Soccer Club and the City of Las Vegas. The other one is the International Tournament, which is played in May. Each year, the tournament welcomes amateur and professional clubs from around the world, and this year the Under 16 division consisted of teams from the United States, Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Germany.

This Under 16 team from the Cayman Islands Youth Football Program has been together since March 2011, training once a week and playing in many friendly games and competitions with local and foreign teams in preparation for tournaments such as the Mayor’s Cup.

A majority of the boys who traveled to Las Vegas had also competed in the Caribbean Football Union Under 15 Boys Championships that was held in Sint Maarten in August 2015.

Each time, the young men and young women were true ambassadors for the Cayman Islands as they represented their country superbly on and off the field in Las Vegas, the team’s press release says.

Tournaments such as the Mayor’s Cup serve as valuable tools in the development of the players as they encounter various teams from around North America and Europe who play with different styles and employ different tactics, the team’s coaches say.

The trip to Las Vegas was financed through government and corporate sponsorship and fundraising efforts by the program’s players, parents and coaches.