At West Bay’s Future Sports Club, Coach Roy ‘Huta’ Ebanks says victories off the pitch are just as important as results on it.
Mr. Ebanks guided the side to victory in the President’s Cup final earlier this month. Tevin Yen scored twice to help the side to a 2-1 victory over Scholars International at the Ed Bush Stadium on June 3.
The win was particularly sweet, said Mr. Ebanks, because the core of the squad has been together since they were 11 years old.
“This is a special generation of players that started together as part of the John A. Cumber primary school team. I would say 80 percent of the squad came from that team. They have stayed together and developed together and their patience and loyalty to the club has paid off.”
Mr. Ebanks has been coaching at Future Sports Club since it was established by a group of West Bay youngsters with the support of local leaders Floyd Bush and Bernie Bush nearly two decades ago.
He said the founders and administrators that had worked with the club over the years, including his wife Sarah Orrett, had put the emphasis on developing people as well as developing footballers.
With so many competing influences for young men in the West Bay district, he said the club tried to provide direction and positive influence in its players lives.
“All of the players in our program have either gone off to college and got degrees or they have gone to UCCI or got a job. At our club, we take a holistic approach to player development.”
He said the club kept a check on its youth players’ grades in school and helped parents support their kids in improving grades.
“Some of them have been off to university and come back with degrees in finance, business, psychology,” he said.
“For us, it is not just about developing a winning team; it is about using the sport to develop players with the right attitude and skills to succeed in life.”
Mr. Ebanks sees signs of progress in youth development across several teams in the Cayman Islands. Another West Bay side, Scholars FC, were the league title winners, while Academy FC, another club with strong youth programs, won the FA Cup.
“It is good to see the titles all spread out,” Coach Ebanks said. “Last year Bodden Town won everything.”
He hopes the sport can become more organized on a national level and help more young people achieve their goals.
“Sport can be a way to a better life,” he said.