Local boys prepare for Under 17 World Cup Playoffs

Members of the Under 17 National Football Team prior to their participation in the 2016 Mayor’s Cup International Showcase in Nevada in February.

Following on from their historic third-place finish at the 2015 Caribbean Football Union Under 15 Boys’ Championships in Sint Maarten last August, the now Under 17 Boys National Football Team are preparing for the first round of the CFU Under 17 World Cup Playoffs, which are scheduled for July 20–24 at a venue still to be determined.

Winners from the first round groups of qualifiers will advance to the final round of the Under 17 World Cup Playoffs scheduled for Sept. 18–25, with a chance to qualify for the CONCACAF Under 17 World Cup Qualifiers in February 2017. Four countries from CONCACAF will qualify for the 17th edition of the FIFA Under 17 World Cup finals to be played in India in September and October 2017.

This current group of players has been training together since March 2011, preparing for occasions such as the Under 15 Boys’ Championships last year and now the opportunity to represent their nation at a global FIFA-sanctioned event in the Under 17 World Cup Playoffs.

Under the tutelage of an experienced coaching staff, which includes Ernie “Gillie” Seymour, head coach; Ken Downey, assistant coach; Antwan Seymour, assistant coach and manager; Luis Morejon, goalkeeper coach; and Andrew Holness, equipment manager, the squad have been regularly participating in local and overseas club and international tournaments during the last five years.

Along with participating in the CFU Under 15 Boys’ Championships in August 2015, the boys have played in the Mayor’s Cup International Showcase in Las Vegas, the 2015 Cayman International Youth Football Tournament and the 2015 Cayman Airways Invitational Youth Cup.

To begin their preparations in 2016, the squad participated in the 2016 Mayor’s Cup International Showcase in Las Vegas in February, and were involved in a local training camp over the recent Easter break, training from 8:30 a.m. to noon from Tuesday, March 29, to Friday, April 1, at the Annex Field.

Plans are under way to attend a three-day training camp in Cayman Brac in June and a seven-day training camp in Florida prior to the first round of playoffs in July.

The current squad consists of 33 players from a number of local clubs, including three players who currently attend school in the United States and the United Kingdom, namely Corey Mellaneo, Kameron Mendez and Ricardo Damasso. The three overseas-based players are scheduled to join up with the squad at the training camp in Florida.

During the training camp in Florida, the squad will be reduced to a final traveling team of 22 players, as required by the CFU, and will depart for the playoffs on July 19.

The squad of players include Albertini Holness, Jayden Downey, Jose La Rosa-Ebanks, D’Andre Rowe, Rohelio Wright, Francisco Murillo, Cody Ebanks, Rico Bodden Jr., Gonzalo McLaughlin Jr., Louis Gordon, Jalen Walters, Alexander Clark-Ramirez, Jamaar Frederick, Jabari Campbell, Devonte Morejon, Kailan Miller, Justyn Powell, Kareem Foster, Kion Parchmont, Oladapo Bailey, Nicholas Chung, Trey Ebanks, Daniel Manderson, Jiffon Robinson, Javier Ardila, Jondane Dawkins, Alfredo Whittaker Jr., Dominic Owens, Jahrion Bodden, Jamal Bodden, Corey Mellaneo, Ricardo Damasso and Kameron Mendez.

Commenting on the preparations and what the players hope to achieve, acting president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, Bruce Blake, said, “The core of this team has been training for a number of years and, based on their performance in Sint Maarten at the Under 15 Boys’ Championships last August, we expect that the team will advance to the next stage of the qualifiers.”

For further information on the Under 17 Boys National Football Program and how to assist with getting them to the first round of the Under 17 Playoffs, contact Antwan Seymour at 925-7407, Neil Murray at 925-8793 or via email at [email protected]