Cayman building on Swindon Town partnership

Byles, Sigsworth and Thompson with Swindon Town FC Academy Manager, Jeremy Newton.

Cayman’s partnership with Swindon Town FC is paying dividends, according to National U15 Boys Football coach Bruce Sigsworth, who has recently returned from a stint at the English club’s academy with three local youngsters.

Sigsworth accompanied Luke Byles, Jonah Sigsworth and Victor Thompson Jr on the two-week trip. He was pleased with how the guys fit in with their Swindon Town counterparts.

“I saw how each of the three guys with me took to the challenge and I saw where they were strong and also, I saw where there was need for improvement. I’ve spoken to each of them and we will get a detailed report from the Swindon Town academy manager on each of them on how they did,” the coach said on the 20 August edition of The Saturday Sports Show on Star 92.7FM.

“You learn a lot in a game situation and seeing how they took to it. It was a lot for me, as a coach, to take in,” he said.

Victor and Jonah, who were also guests on the radio show, we delighted at the opportunity to train alongside an English club.

“It was much different because they play much faster than in Cayman,” Victor noted, while Jonah said they were able to benefit from a wealth of football knowledge.

“I want to go back and make a difference for Cayman football because going and seeing the high quality [of football] in England, it makes us want to get Cayman to that quality,” the young Sigsworth said.

Their coach acknowledged the speed factor. However, he said the local boys were not left behind on the pitch.

“The guys fit in really well…the pace is definitely [faster] but technically, at this level, these guys can compete,” he said.

“They just have to get used to the pace and it’s difficult to get used to a pace when you’re not in it every day. They were thrown in it and they did well to handle the pace. It’s something you get used to…you get into it very quickly but I think the boys fit in really well,” he added, pointing out they trained with boys who left for a tournament in the Netherlands and wanted the Cayman players to join them.

Initially, the plan was to take 20 players from the National U15 squad to the Swindon Town but this was cut back due to funding restrictions. The trio which went this year adds to five others who have trained with the English club’s academy in recent years.

“What we have done through our efforts, through the efforts Academy [Sports Club] and ESM [Excel Sports Management], the Under-15 team will have a total of eight players who have been to England. So, that becomes a nucleus that we can build on. We’ll take these guys back to the other members and they’ll have to share their experiences,” Coach Sigsworth said.

“If we keep building…these little things will help. There’s more that can be done. I think a lot of it can be done through coaching as well. My thinking is if we get more coaches qualified and having the knowledge, we would then be able to affect more youth that way than the method we are doing now, which is taking a few over.”

Cayman’s relationship with Swindon Town started when Barry Martinez took his son, Sebastian, there to further develop his footballing skills. The younger Martinez is now fully immersed in the club’s setup and plays for the U18 side.

“It has morphed and continued to grow into these things where they are looking for talent and looking for players to come over and experience their level,” the National U15 coach said, adding that Cayman’s youth have benefited from visits to the island by Swindon Town’s coaches.

“I work very closely with Jeremy Newton, who is the academy manager, with this Under-15 team in developing these young men. We use a lot of their techniques and methods. It’s been a really good relationship and it continues. It’s continuing to grow.”

Local footballers are getting set for the upcoming season, with the players returning to their clubs for training. As they do, so too does the National U15 squad, as Sigsworth and the coaching staff prepares them for the CONCACAF U15 Championship next summer.


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