CIFA premier leagues to resume next month

Cayman’s men's and women's premier leagues will return to the pitch after the COVID-19 pandemic stopped their seasons

Cayman's men's and women's premier leagues are set to kick off after a nearly four-month hiatus. - Photo: Seaford Russell Jr.

Cayman Islands Football Association leaders say their premier leagues are set to resume next month after a nearly four-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CIFA has slated Saturday, 15 Aug., as the first day games will be played, according CIFA President Alfredo Whittaker. Government regulations allow for contact sports as of 19 July.

CIFA’s planned COVID-19 suppression measures

  • Offering free testing for players until 12 July
  • Fans in the stands being considered
  • Encouraging sanitation, social distancing
  • Coaches would wear masks at all times
  • More seating in bench area for players, team personnel
  • Discourage sharing of water bottles

There are six men’s premier league matches to be played between 15-16 Aug. and possibly one women’s game. Two Presidents Cup finals matches are scheduled to be played the following weekend.

“It’s a great feeling to have the ball rolling again and to have players back in action, and to have football, in general, back,” Whittaker said.

The association is also working in conjunction with the Health Services Authority to provide free COVID-19 tests for players through 12 July at the CIFA headquarters, although Whittaker said he’s disappointed about how few players have signed up to take advantage of the testing.

“I haven’t seen the numbers, but from what I know, the response is not the big one that we were expecting,” he said. “A little bit sad. I would expected teams to take advantage of that.”

CIFA has been in touch with local clubs and none are aware of any players who have tested positive for coronavirus, although not all players have been tested nor are they required to be tested, according to Whittaker.

He told the Cayman Compass in May that games would be held without spectators when play resumes, but now says the league may allow fans. CIFA would “continue with sanitation and the six-feet distancing”, he added.

“Obviously, at the beginning, there was some concern because there was some sort of uncertainty of what would happen,” Whittaker said. “But I guess right now, with all of the positive news that we continue to get almost every other day, it’s a lot of happiness.”

He said the league plans to allow players, coaches and team personnel on the field, but would provide more seats for players on the bench to adhere to physical distancing standards. The league expects coaches would wear masks at all times, he said, and plans to discuss with clubs how to discourage players from sharing water bottles.

Alfredo Whittaker

CIFA previously had sought guidance from CONCACAF and FIFA on best practices, but Whittaker says those protocols may not be suited for local matches.

“Our situation is a little different than other countries that have resumed football,” he said, “We have a little bit more freedom.”

The Compass last month reached out to the sports ministry seeking comment on game-day protocol and the possibility of testing requirements for athletes, but has not received a response.

Youth leagues have been cancelled for this season and even for those teams that will not be participating in the last round of games, like Cayman Athletic, the resumption signals the start of something positive for those who love the sport.

“I am looking forward to it as there are other places in worse conditions than Cayman and they have already gone back to contact team sports,” Cayman Athletic coach Antwan Seymour told the Compass.

Saturday 15 Aug.
Men’s League           Future vs. Alliance     6pm    Ed Bush
Women’s League      Elite vs. Scholars       8pm    Ed Bush
Men’s League           North Side vs. Roma  7pm    Annex

Sunday 16 Aug.
Men’s League          Academy vs. Latinos    5pm    Ed Bush
Men’s League          George Town vs. Elite  5pm    Annex
Men’s League          Sunset vs. Scholars     7pm    Ed Bush
Men’s League          East End vs. BT           7pm    Annex

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