A dozen youth football teams, including a Manchester City development squad and the Cuba under-15 team, are putting their final touches on preparations for the Cayman Airways Invitational Youth Football Cup, which runs on island May 10-15.
The tournament, organized by the West Bay Sports Foundation, has also attracted Under-15 squads from the United States, Honduras and Jamaica, in addition to the Cayman Islands.
Among the favorites will be a squad from the Manchester City Academy, one of the top-rated programs in England. City’s senior team are currently contesting the European Champions League semifinal.
“We are proud to participate in the 2016 Cayman Airways Invitational Youth Cup, and we are excited about supporting all of the good work already being carried out by the many skilled coaches in the region,” said Manchester City FC Academy Technical Director Rodolfo Borrell.
“The high level of this tournament will also give our young players great experience of competing internationally and representing their club against top players from other territories,” Mr. Borrell added.
Orlando City FC is one of five Major League Soccer academies from the United States competing in the tournament.
“Orlando City is a club with a passion for good football in a town overwhelmingly passionate about soccer. We look forward to a competitive week of soccer in the beautiful Cayman Islands. It is our goal to experience quality soccer with teams from different parts of the world to improve our players and enhance our style of play,” said Greg Brick, head coach of the team representing Orlando City FC at the tournament.
Other MLS squads taking part are LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders FC, Houston Dynamo and DC United. IMG Academy from Florida is also competing, along with Club Deportivo Victoria from Honduras, Swindon Town FC from England, the Cuba National Under 15 Team, and Cavalier Soccer Club from Jamaica. A Cayman Academy SC Select team has been named to replace the Cayman Islands Select team that was initially slated to participate.
Cavalier Soccer Club representative Paul Maxwell said his side has been anticipating the opportunity to compete in the tournament.
“Preparations are coming along very well. We have played a number of Under 20 teams in our preparations. We’re coming to win. We’re not coming just to participate. We are going to show the other teams that there is quality football in the Caribbean. We hope to shock the other teams with the level of our play,” he said.
Luis Hernandez Herez, president of the Football Association of Cuba, also expressed excitement about the chance to play in the tournament.
“Aware of the great importance it represents for young players to compete at this level, and convinced that it will be a spectacular experience, we are happy to send our U-15 National Team to the tournament,” Mr. Herez said.
Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden told the Cayman Compass that the tournament and another upcoming under-14 tournament, featuring Tottenham Hotspur, are great news for Cayman.
He said Manchester City would be a big attraction at the under-15 tournament.
“I think it’s absolutely brilliant that we have been able to attract a team from a club of this size and stature. Kudos to the organizers, and government is very pleased to have been able to assist in making this a reality.
“With us no longer having the CONCACAF developmental tournament to look forward to on the annual calendar, it was very important for the grass-roots tournaments to step up to the plate and give an opportunity for our young footballers to learn and showcase their own talents against some of the best teams in our region, USA and Europe.
“This can only lead to positive outcomes for football in Cayman and give our young people something to aspire to.”
For more information, visit www.caymanyouthfootballcup.ky.