Football stars roll back the years at exhibition match

Ben Meade

Some of the most popular names of Cayman football through the years were joined by their peers from Jamaica and former professional stars from Europe, as they turned back the clock for an exhibition match at Truman Bodden Sports Complex Saturday evening.

The event was part of a weekend of festivities to culminate a year-long commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Cayman Islands’ constitution.

After greeting players before kick-off, Premier Alden McLaughlin made a ceremonial pass to Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness as a sign of solidarity between the neighbouring Caribbean countries that share deep, historic ties.

In the true spirit of camaraderie, visiting players were mixed with their local counterparts on two teams, captained by former Cayman national team players Lee Ramoon and Antonio Smith.

Fans on hand were eager to see the stars of yesteryear mix it up on the pitch and while it was pretty much a showcase, the players well past their primes did not want to disappoint. Fans cheered on the players, hoping for dramatic action, and after a scoreless first half, there was a frenzy of seven goals, with Ramoon’s side in red winning 4-3.

“Celebrating 60 years of our Constitution is a great thing and also to have the visiting players participate with us,” Ramoon said, adding that it was a pleasure to have some of Jamaica’s most famous Reggae Boyz on hand. “We played against some of them over the years, like Ian ‘Pepe’ Goodison, Onandi Lowe and those guys, so it’s great to have them here.”

Smith said it was an honour to be asked to participate and to be selected as captain. “It’s a really good experience to meet up with all the old-time ballers, enjoying ourselves and celebrating the 60th anniversary of our Constitution for the Cayman Islands. I’m enjoying it,” he said.

Ricardo Fuller, who made 79 international appearances for Jamaica, and played professionally in England for much of his career, opened the scoring early in the second half.

“It’s an absolute pleasure and an honour to be here for such a historical event,” the 39-year-old striker said. “For us Jamaican guys, the guys from England, coming to take part in it, it is an absolute honour to be here and I hope we made it as memorable as possible for those who came out.”

The event also served as to raise awareness and funds for the Hope 4 Today Foundation, which runs a halfway house in West Bay for recovering drug addicts. Although there was no admission charged, spectators were asked to make a donation to the local non-profit. At the time of writing, it was not confirmed how much money was raised.

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