Rain doesn’t stop Mini Slam fun

Cool conditions with damp conditions due to lingering rains didn’t stop more than 250 youngsters from bringing their ‘A games’ to the fourth instalment of the Academy Sports Club’s 7v7 Mini Slam tournament on Saturday, 6 January 2018.

More than 250 players from 23 teams competed in the boys’ and girls’ U11 and U13 division.

Describing the turnout as “huge” Academy youth coach Paul Byles, who conceptualised the first tournament in December 2016, added: “One of the nice things about it is we have a few clubs who didn’t do this before.”

Among the first-timers at the event were Latinos FC, and new club 345 FC. Teams from John Gray High School and Triple C School also joined in with sides from Academy SC, Elite SC, ESM, Future SC and Sunset Football Club.

345 FC’s president Chris Duggan welcomed the invitation to be part of the event. “It’s sort of the big unknown. We had no idea, so we put the two team together to see how they would do today and it’s going well,” he said while the tournament was still ongoing.

The day came to a close with two entertaining finals in the U11 and U13 boys divisions. ASC Stingrays needed extra time to take a 1-0 win over 345 FC, while a showdown between ASC M9 and Sunset Rovers went to penalty kicks to determine the U13 winner.  M9 goalkeeper Zion Bodden stole the show with two saves in the shootout to give his side the win and earn himself the MVP award, which was presented by visiting Major League Soccer (MLS) star player Jozy Altidore of Toronto FC.

Academy Sports Club were winners among the U11 girls ahead of runners-up from Sunset FC. Among U13 girls, Sunset FC took home the champions trophy with Elite SC settling for the runners-up trophy.

This was the second Mini Slam event put on by Academy in the past month, following a U15 and U17 tournament in December. Byles said it was important to have events like this to keep the young players engaged.

“We’re doing this because we don’t have a league yet. It’s sad to say but it’s just what it is,” Byles said. “We’re not going to wait for the league to start.”

CaymanSportsBuzz.com understands various CIFA youth leagues are slated to begin in late January. The U11 and U13 leagues were delayed to not conflict with the CUC Primary Football League and the Dart U13/U14 High School Football Leagues.

“CIFA has a new president now, so it’s nice and positive. We’re entering a new era and we are looking forward to working with that president as well, but we need things to happen. The kids need to play football. There’s a lot of talk but the kids want to play football. That’s what we’re doing today,” Byles said.

On hand for some of the event was Altidore, the reigning MVP of the MLS Cup, who hosted a clinic with older players ahead of the start of the tournament. He said he was happy to be there to witness the youngsters in action.

“It’s great. You see a lot of young kids expressing themselves trying to play football that excites them and they feel good about. That’s what you want – the young kids expressing themselves,” the United States national team player said.

Byles was glad to have Altidore on hand during his visit to the island that included a gala dinner hosted by 7 Mile Society and the Jozy Altidore Foundation to raise funds to help Caribbean countries hard-hit by hurricanes last year.

“He’s awesome. The nice thing about Jozy is that he’s very energetic, very enthusiastic and he passes that energy onto the kids. The second thing about Jozy is that he talks to the kids like a regular guy and they seem to like that and appreciate that,” the Academy coach said.

Hinting that the club has more in store, Byles was full of praise for those who gave their time to help the Mini Slam events become a big hit for players and coaches.

“The key to that is just getting the volunteers to have people to be able to do the work…you actually have to want to do it. Somebody has to want to get up one day and say I am going to organise an event for some kids to play football whatever it takes…we just have that spirit throughout our club,” he said.

Individual Player Awards
U11 Boys MVP – Joshua Elliott (ASC Stingrays)
U11 Boys Top Goal Scorer – Kyan Okoli (ASC Stingrays)
U11 Boys Fair Play Award – David Arch (Latinos FC)

U13 Boys MVP – Zion Bodden (ASC M9)
U13 Boys Top Goal Scorer – Anthony Catalanotto (Sunset Rovers)
U13 Boys Fair Play Award – Jevoughn Anderson (Future SC)

U11 Girls MVP – Clara Byrne (ASC)
U11 Girls Top Goal Scorer – Millie Hoffman (ASC)
U11 Girls Fair Play Award – Cayden Coles (Sunset FC)

U13 Girls MVP – Kayla Bradley (Sunset FC)
U13 Girls Top Goal Scorer – Stoyana Stewart (Elite SC)
U13 Girls Fair Play Award – Erin Parchment (Elite SC)

See more photos at our Facebook page.

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