The Cayman Islands National U-15 football team is embarking on a trip to raise their profile and increase their chances of successfully competing on the international stage.
The team left Grand Cayman on Thursday morning to practice this weekend at the Celtic Football Club ID Camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, which will also be the site of August’s CONCACAF tournament.
The camp, run by the international academy of Celtic Football Club of the Scottish Premiership, will give the players the opportunity to gel together during training and also to perhaps be noticed by professional scouts.
Coach Bruce Sigsworth said, “It is a Celtic ID camp, where their partner clubs in the U.S. and I think Canada are looking to identify players, not only to sign them, but to give them coaching and playing experience in Glasgow. The possibilities are endless, but it’s up to their performance, and the boys know this. They know what could be at the end of the rainbow in this case. We’re hoping they go for the challenge and go hard.”
Celtic has 12 affiliated youth clubs in the United States, and Sigsworth knows that his players could use some advanced coaching and playing styles. He said it will be particularly worthwhile for his players to work with a goalkeeping coach, a resource that has been hard to find in the Cayman Islands.
“We hope to get the boys being coached by the highest level youth coaches possibly in the world,” said Sigsworth. “There are some of the boys who aren’t going, and we’ve asked these boys to absorb everything and bring it back. We hope that the knowledge and the experience is passed on as well.”
The players learned all they could from hosting the recent Cayman Airways Invitational tournament last month, and they’re hoping to raise their game just in time to compete against the other top youth teams in their region.
“I’m excited. It’s a good opportunity for some good football,” midfielder Jackson Kirkconnell said of working with the Celtic youth academy. “[I hope] to learn the most I can from the coaches from Celtic.”
“I expect that everyone is on their best behavior but that they also train hard,” added captain Luke Byles, who hopes to work on technique and teamwork. “I think we need to improve on communicating as a team, not just a couple players at different times. All together so we can move as one team.”
Some of the players have never played in an international tournament, so Sigsworth hopes that a trip to America ahead of the August CONCACAF tournament will help them get up to speed.
“They would have already been on this flight before,” he said of the trip’s benefits. “The whole social dynamics of the team just build more and more. That’s truthfully one of the more important things for us in this trip: The social side of it. Learning how people live. Learning who snores, who doesn’t bathe, who should brush his teeth earlier. It’s all about learning each other off the field and on.”
The U-15 team has so far raised $37,000 of a targeted $50,000 for upcoming tournaments.