Academy Sports Club had an impressive 2015/16 season, securing five championships, one-second place finish, and two third-place finishes among the eight teams.
The teams encompass a large age range, from U-11 to U-21 and a men’s team that competes in the Cayman Premier League.
This season, the U-11 team were league champions and FA Cup semifinalists. The U13A team were league and FA Cup champions, and the U-15 team were league champions and FA Cup runners-up. The U-17 boys team placed third in the league and were FA Cup semifinalists, the U-21 team were FA Cup champions, and the men’s team took home third place in the Premier League.
This year was the first time that Academy entered two U-13 teams into the league and FA Cup, organizers said in a press release. The decision was made after noting the large numbers of U-13 players at the club.
“This new approach will allow more kids to play and have more playing time at competitive matches,” said U-13 coach Paul Byles. “We hope to do something similar with our U-11 players next season.”
Academy had a girls team for the second year, but the U-17 girls league was canceled during the season due to a lack of teams. “We still have plans to enter a girls team next season,” said head coach Virgil Seymour.
The U-21 team and men’s team began training together this year, as many of the club’s senior team players are young enough to play on the U-21 team.
“This has been a successful arrangement as the younger players have gotten a lot of experience playing in the Premier League,” said coach Seymour. “It has contributed to our success with an impressive third-place finish this year after winning the First Division last year to be promoted to the Cayman Premier League.”
The U-15 members of the club participated in the recent U-15 and U-14 Cayman Airways Invitational Youth Cups, where they played against tough teams from all over the world. This month, they head out their annual trip to the USA Cup in Blaine, Minnesota.
Academy will be taking four teams to Minnesota, with players ranging from 8 to 15 years old.
At last year’s USA Cup, Academy won the U-12 Gold Championships, and in 2014 they were U-13 Silver Champions. Coach Byles said the team is looking forward to continued success at this year’s Cup, as well as in next year’s season.
“The boys have worked hard this season and at the recent Cayman Airways Youth Cups,” he said. “I know that experience will serve us well when we are in Minnesota.”
Youth development programs
The club continued its youth development programs this year, including Saturday morning sessions called Football4All where children with special needs are coached by volunteer youth coaches. Football4All is a joint venture of the Academy Sports Club and The Wellness Centre.
Other youth development initiatives include Academy’s FUNdamentals program that seeks to provide players ages 4-5 with a fun introduction to football basics and teamwork, and an in-house junior football league for players ages 6-8 to experience a real football league with proper rules, referees, and teams.