The Cayman Islands Football Association has dismissed the idea of establishing a local semi-pro soccer league.

The proposal is one that CIFA said they are unable to accommodate financially, adding that it also disregarded other opportunities that they are currently working on.

“This obviously is not feasible at this time in CIFA’s budget,” the association said in a recent press release, in which it addressed calls for a semi-pro league among other issues. “This approach would deem them to be professionals and universities/collages worldwide will not accept professionals as students into their programs. This is an unreasonable request of any player to demand this of CIFA.”

The idea of establishing a league in which players would be paid has been discussed within the local football community for some time. As recently as June when national players publicly voiced concerns about CIFA as well as association president Alfredo Whittaker, there were calls for the premier league to become semi-pro.

Cayman has dozens of student athletes attending schools abroad, including male and female footballers. However, only three players are known to be playing in semi-pro or professional leagues: Left winger Elijah Seymour, who plays with AFC Dunarea Calarasi; striker Ahren Bryan, who plays with Florida Premier FC; and defender Joshewa Frederick at FC Wichita.

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CIFA said while the game of football is priority, education is key.

“We have to secure the future of up-and-coming youth,” CIFA said, explaining the association has “learned the hard way” that players who turn professional will lose their opportunity to earn overseas scholarship to universities.

According to CIFA, a budget upwards of $4.5 million has been set for the next three years, which covers plans to expand the CIFA headquarters and the construction of a new pitch. Adding a semi-pro league would disrupt the association’s current plans due to financial implications, CIFA said.

“A semi pro league that would pay only CI$1,000.00 per month per player for 8 Premier League teams with a 25-player roster would cost CI$2.4 million per year ($1,000 X 25 players X 8 teams X 12 months),” CIFA stated in the press release. “Paying less than that would just not make it worthwhile. These numbers do not consider pension, health insurance and other benefits and/or costs, just net salaries.”

In dismissing the proposal for a semi-pro league, CIFA said their attention is focussed on the national programmes; to date, the senior men have found little success at that level compared to the women’s national squad.

“It is a known fact around the world that footballers are professionals at a club level, not the national team level… Players everywhere will always demand as much as they can from their associations, and it is no different here in Cayman. However, we can only do so much and no more,” CIFA said in the release.

It added, “While CIFA realises that the vast responsibilities and accountabilities necessary in carrying out its role as the national association responsible for football administration can be at times a thankless job, we still do it for the love of the game and believe that this sport benefits the Cayman community as a whole.”

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