Academy teams bring home the hardware

Academy Sports Club players were delighted with their performance.

A crowd of enthusiastic loved ones gathered at Owen Roberts International Airport on Sunday (23 July) to provide the warmest of receptions for more than 90 players, who represented Academy Sports Club at the 33rd Schwan’s USA Cup in Minnesota. Among the teams returning to the Cayman Islands were two cup winners and a runner-up.

The club’s U10 Boys were Gold Cup Champions and U12 Girls were Silver Cup Champions, while the U15 Boys were runners-up for their Gold Cup. The U17 Boys made it to the semi-finals of their Gold Cup, while the U13 Boys were Gold Cup quarterfinalists and the U12 Boys were Silver Cup quarterfinalists.

“It’s something that we all should be proud of. These kids did a tremendous job, they worked really hard and were disciplined on and off the field,” said Academy Head Coach Virgil Seymour.

The captains

The U10 Boys steamrolled their way through the group stage, including a 25-1 win over North Metro Blackhawks (Minnesota) in their opener. From there, they never looked back until they beat Edina SC (Minnesota) 1-0 in the championship game.

U10 captain Dylan Phillips told that the experience playing overseas made them better players and that it was “very enjoyable hanging out with the team and winning the games.”

After a challenging group stage, the U12 Girls team went on to the playoffs for the Silver Cup, making their way to the final, where they defeated Minnesota’s North Metro Blitz 1-0.

“Happy doesn’t come close [to explaining how pleased we are],” said Adam Clark, who coached the girls.

“We set off earlier in the tournament to enjoy it and get an experience and then we found ourselves in the quarterfinals, then the semi-finals. It was then that the reality set in that we could actually win it. So, we put a pan together, executed it and got the result.”

This was the first time Academy took a girls’ team to the tournament. (Photo courtesy Academy Sports Club)

Emily Scott, who captained the team said: “I’m tremendously happy with how we played. It was interesting for our first time to go away and play, and we played our hearts out.”

This was the first time in seven trips that Academy has taken a girls’ team with them to the tournament and their performance came as a welcome surprise for Seymour.

“The U12 girls were amazing. We said we were just ‘trying a thing’ with the girls. They played well, played from heart and spirit. It’s a new horizon for us with girls. Hopefully from this we get an influx of girls who want to join the club as we continue development and growth,” Seymour told

The U17 boys, who came within a win of the championship game, were pleased with their tournament. Their only loss came in the semi-finals: 4-3 against Cedar Stars Academy, a highly ranked side from New York.

“We were the first Academy U17 team to get as far as we did and I think we played very well with Coach Jack [Brazil] showing us how to play properly and implementing his tactics into our game, making us better footballers,” said captain Kion Parchmont.

Vice-captain Dominic Owens echoed his sentiments. “Just going out there each day and trying our best, working for each other, working for the team and working for our coach, there’s nothing like it.”

Jahmai Griffiths (Photo courtesy Academy Sports Club)

The U13 Boys were undefeated through the group stage of their tournament but were defeated by the top-ranked team from Minnesota, the St Paul’s Blackhawks, 1-0 in the quarterfinals.

“It was a good experience,” said U13 captain Justin Byles. “I thought we could have won but we were a bit unlucky.” He said he enjoys playing in the tournament because it exposes local players to tougher competition and different styles of play.

U12 captain Jaydon Whittaker described the experience as “fun but at the same time challenging to play against other teams” they don’t normally meet and looked forward to playing again next year.

Academy has always done well at the younger levels but not at the U15 and U17 levels. Having the U15 team making it to the finals and the U17s to the semi-finals of a major tournament against top competition was considered a big achievement for the club.

The tournament featured more than a thousand teams with players from across the United States, as well as other countries.

“It’s a tournament that all kids should go and enjoy and see for themselves what quality football is playing out there and give them a different perspective on what we are trying to achieve, not just [Academy] but island wide,” Seymour said.

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