Football fun at Arie Smith camp

Around 150 youngsters got their football fix when they turned up to the Ed Bush Sports Complex on Monday, 19 December.

The children, from as young as six years-old, came out for the Arie Smith Football Camp hosted by the Dream Out Loud Foundation. Throughout the morning, they participated in various drills and games.

A big hit for them was to get close to professional American footballer and US national women’s player, Allie Long. As they huddled on the pitch, they heard stories about Long’s life and career, including her experiences with the national team and her time playing at Paris Saint-Germain.

“The kids are so much fun. They are loving it; they are having so much fun. That’s awesome to see,” said Long, who plays for the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League.

“They just love the game and it’s so awesome to see that something like this is going on,” the midfielder added.

While getting to speak to the professional player, a lasting memory for many may prove to be when she gave them tips about taking penalty kicks and then went into goal to face kicks from the little ones.

Arie Smith presents a leadership award to Saffron Bowen.

“I learned how to take good penalties,” said 11-year-old Saffron Bowen. “I’m a striker, so it’s a really good skill to have – where to look, where not to look and how to psych out the keeper.”

Bowen, who is visiting the Cayman Islands from Wales, was given a leadership award for her skills and attitude displayed at the camp. “It was really fun. We had fun games, taking penalties and five-a-side. It was nice to meet new people. Everyone was so welcoming and the coaches were good.”

Also receiving a leadership award was 10 year-old Sir John A Cumber Primary School student, Jahari Bodden.

Arie Smith presents award to Jahari Bodden.

Smith, a member of the Cayman Islands national women’s team, also gave a pair of boots each to 10-year-old twins Madison and Paige Ebanks, who also attend Sir John A Cumber Primary School, as a reward for the effort they showed during the camp and during the CUC Girls Primary Football League.

Smith, who plays with Scholars International in the local women’s league, started the camp a few years ago, to give back to the community through the sport that has given her so many enjoyable moments. She called on teammates and coaches from her club, as well as other local players to assist with coaching at the camp.

Arie Smith and Allie Long with Madison and Paige Ebanks.

“I’m pleased and there are a lot of girls this time around. Last camp, we had a lot of girls also but there are more girls this time,” she said. “It was good. It was a good turnout and a good day overall.”

This is the second straight year that a member of the US national women’s team was the featured guest. Carli Lloyd was on hand in 2015. Long left with a good impression of the enthusiasm of the youngsters, and as memorable an experience it was for the children, she may not forget her Cayman experience anytime soon.


“They are really good. The one thing I think is cool to see is they love it so much. When you’re passionate about anything, it brings out the best in people and I see that they are smiling and loving the game. [There were] a lot of good players. It’s really cool to see,” Long said before signing autographs for the camp’s participants.

Allie Long and Arie Smith.

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