U15 teams pumped about coming to Cayman

Russell Latapy gives instructions during TTFF U15 training.

Team officials and players from the various clubs from the Caribbean, Central America, the United States and England participating in the 2017 Cayman Airways Invitational Youth Football Cup say they are excited about the tournament, which kicks off on Tuesday (2 May).

“I think it’s an excellent initiative by the organisers in the Cayman Islands to have such an international youth tournament with such quality teams,” said Russell Latapy, the head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago National U15 Team.

Former Trinidad & Tobago international, Russell Latapy, is coaching his country’s youth team.

“This provides an opportunity for the younger players in the region to get that much-needed exposure and experience of playing against teams from the region and also from outside,” Latapy added.

“As head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago team, I am definitely looking forward to the matches and I am certain my players will also be very eager to step onto the playing field and give of their best and soak up the entire experience as we look ahead to our international assignments later down the road,” he said.

Two Major League Soccer academies from the United States are back for a second straight year: Houston Dynamo and DC United.

“It’s a great opportunity to play against top international competition and benchmark ourselves against some of the best teams and players around the world,” said DC United co-captain Nick Andersen.

His co-captain, Bradley Paz, acknowledged the huge challenge because of quality competition, including from English powerhouse Manchester City FC, which won last year’s tournament.

“Over the past weeks, we have been giving it our all to get ready for this tournament. We’re entering this tournament with the mindset to reach the finals. We’re playing against top teams around the world but we’re ready. We’re ready to make a name for ourselves,” Paz said.

IMG Academy from Florida has been a regular feature of the tournament and is one of six teams returning from last year’s tournament. “We are very happy for been invited back to Cayman. It will be our fourth time and every year has been a great experience for IMG players and coaches. We are looking forward for challenge every year the Cayman Federation put a good show,” said IMG coach Marcelo Carrera.

IMG Academy is in the same group as the Cayman Islands National U15 Team.

IMG will be in a group with the Cayman Islands National U15 Team, Cavalier Soccer Club from Jamaica, and first-time participant Alchemy Soccer Club from Minnesota.

“The Cayman Airways Invitational will be the pinnacle of our season here with Alchemy Soccer Club.  The kids have been working hard to prepare for the outstanding level of competition and the conditions for a team coming from the far north.  A truly unique opportunity that the kids will cherish for many years to come,” said Alchemy coach, Donny Mark.

Also travelling to the Cayman Islands is Bahamas Tottenham Hotspur FC. Coach Scott Haywood said training had been going well ahead of the trip.

“The players and staff are excited about this opportunity to match ourselves against such good competition. We are a young club and our goals are to continue to improve as individuals and as a unit as we progress through each match,” he said.

La Ceiba FC

The Bahamian side, along with Harbour View FC of Jamaica, La Ceiba FC of Honduras, and the Cuba National U15 Team will play Group C matches in Cayman Brac.

Harbour View’s general manager, Clyde Jureidini, said his club was looking forward to the competition.

“Our players, coaches, managers, parents and the club embraces the opportunities to meet and establish lifetime acquaintances with new clubs, academies and football officials across the CONCACAF zone and those from Great Britain to match skill sets and challenge our standards to be improved on a global level,” Jureidini said.

He said the players will be at their best to represent the large Jamaican contingent living in the Cayman Islands.

Another club with strong connections to the Cayman community is La Ceiba FC, which has assembled a team that it expects to be a force to be reckoned. “The boys are really looking forward to being there to start playing as a team and demonstrate our potential at the level of the best, looking to play our best football match to match to reach the grand finale,” said coach Hernan Funez.

The Cayman Airways Invitational U15 Youth Football Cup is organised by West Bay Sports Foundation, a non-profit grouping that has hosted several tournaments since its inception in 2009.

See grouping of teams and full tournament schedule.

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