Two young Caymanians are about to take the football trip of a lifetime.
Barry Tibbetts Jr. and Rashad Powery have been selected to travel with an American club team to England, where they will play friendly games against the academies of three professional teams.
The teenage players will travel to England with Tri-State Elite, a club based in Morgantown, West Virginia, and they will play against the youth teams of Manchester City, Bolton Wanderers and Preston North End.
Tri-State Elite is coached by former college player Kernell Borneo, who discovered the two players when he came to Cayman to participate in several instructional camps.
“It’s a great opportunity for them,” said Mr. Borneo of the trip. “I’ve been to the Cayman Islands three times to work in soccer camps, and I saw both boys. Rashad was in one of the camps that I ran.… I went to watch Rashad play in an adult league game when he was 14, I believe, and he did well.”
The team will leave Saturday and arrive in England on Sunday, and they will play there for a week before returning home. Barry, 16, will play on Tri-State Elite’s U-17 team, and Rashad, 14, will play for the U-14’s.
Mr. Borneo, who played in college at West Virginia University, said that Tri-State Elite will also play against an unaffiliated local youth team in Manchester during the trip. The players will train at and tour St. George’s Park National Football Centre, the home of England’s national team.
“The team that these boys are playing on – especially the U-14 team – we have kids from California, Columbus, West Virginia, Virginia and Indiana,” said Mr. Borneo. “I see a lot of players in the U.S. To invite those boys from the Cayman Islands, they’d have to have something special.”
Mr. Borneo’s younger son, Caleb Borneo, will turn 13 while on the trip to England and will play on the same U-14 team as Rashad. His older son, Elijah Borneo, is not on the trip, but he played in the youth academy of Major League Soccer club Columbus Crew and recently committed to play in college at the University of Kentucky.
Mr. Borneo was born in Trinidad before emigrating to America for college, and he said he recognizes the drive in Barry and Rashad that will be necessary to thrive at a higher level of football.
“Definitely, those boys have the potential,” said Mr. Borneo of his pair of Cayman football players. “They’re both skillful players and they both have great attitude, which is very important if you want to make it to the next level. It’s not just about the skill. You’ve got to have the attitude and the work rate. I think both boys have that, and they have a great understanding of the game … as well.”