Mini Slam brings out U15 and U17 players

A display of energy, enthusiasm and competition took centre stage at the Academy Sports Club field on Outpost Street Saturday, 16 December, as the club hosted another in its series of 7v7 Mini Slam tournaments. For the first time, the focus was on boys U15 and U17 teams with a special appearance by former Italian national player Gianfranco Zola.

The event attracted teams from the host club and Alliance FC at the U17 level, with Academy teams being joined by others from Bodden Town FC and Future SC at the U15 level.

Designed as a fun event to start the Christmas holiday break and to give youth players a chance to get some action with the local leagues not yet underway, Academy SC coach Paul Byles was pleased with the approach the players took.

“They all did very well. It was a chance for them to come out and have some fun…but they acted like it was competitive, so that was kind of good to see as well,” he said.

Alliance FC and Academy SC each fielded two sides at the U17 level with ASC Warriors and Alliance FC B meeting in the final, which was won by the visitors.

“They gave us an opportunity to play and we came out here to play,” said Alliance FC’s U17 coach Barry Tibbetts.

He added that he’s keen to see more competition once the league begins. “The performance was excellent. I can’t wait to get my full team together on a field to play all these guys.”

Byles, who coaches at both the U15 and U17 levels, was also happy to see a strong showing from the Alliance FC representatives.

“It is very good, especially to have Alliance because they are new with the youth programme and they are doing well. I was also very pleased for them to see them win. It means that there is going to be really good competition in the Under-17 League,” Byles said.

Having Alliance join the U17 league this season would deepen the pool from last year when only Academy SC and Cayman Athletic fielded teams.

Academy Panthers defeated the Academy Jaguars to take the U15 title.

In all, 34 goals were scored in 320 minutes of football across 18 matches.

A major highlight for the players was having Zola, the former Chelsea forward, give them a pep talk, as well as conduct a mini clinic focusing on skilfully taking free kicks. Zola, who most recently coached Birmingham City, gave one-on-one instruction to players from each of the participating teams.

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