U15’s ready for CONCACAF championships

Jaden Ebanks heads a ball toward goal during drills.

The youngsters who are poised to suit up for the Cayman Islands at the CONCACAF Boys U15 Championships say their goal is to make the country proud.

The squad leaves island on 10 August ahead of the tournament being played over seven days at the IMG Academy campus in Bradenton, Florida.

CaymanSportsBuzz.com stopped by a training session recently to see how the boys were doing as their coaches put them through the paces before their big test.

“We’re all excited. We’ve been preparing for this for a long time now and we look forward to it,” said left back Ciaron Haylock, who described training in the final stretch as being intense.

Forward David Pitcairn was also upbeat. “Training has been going very well,” he said. “We have been training very hard and we’ve been giving it our all.”

The Cayman Islands has been grouped with Aruba, Bonaire and Saint Martin for the opening group play, starting with Aruba on Sunday, 13 August. Ahead of the tournament, a practice match with Tampa Bay United is scheduled for Wednesday shortly after they arrive. They will return to the pitch for another warm-up against Mexico on Friday.

 

David Pitcairn

 

“I think we are one of the underdogs for this tournament but it doesn’t mean that we can’t prove ourselves. We’re going to represent our country and make them proud,” Pitcairn said.

Haylock agreed: “It’s quite a big deal because we have a chance to play for the national team and represent the country.”

Centre back Jaden Ebanks said earning a spot on the team means a lot and he has no intentions of squandering the chance of representing Cayman proudly.

“This spot [on the team] is not for granted,” Ebanks said. “There are other kids out there who deserve a spot. We’ve been granted this opportunity, so we’re going to go up there and make the most of it.”

Head Coach Bruce Sigsworth has been working with the players over the past year to get them ready for the tournament. “We’re getting there,” he said.

They’ve benefitted from playing together as a unit at the Cayman Airways Invitational U15 Youth Football Cup in May, as well as friendlies against a Jamaican side in June. Many of the players also travelled to a camp hosted by Celtic FC at the IMG Academy.

 

Sigsworth gives his players a pep talk during training.

 

“We have quite a bit of game experience in us,” Sigsworth said. “We’re finalizing set plays and game play, our shape and things like that.”

He said the squad should be at full strength for the tournament, despite some players who have sat out some recent training sessions. “There is precautionary resting for some players who have a little niggle here or there but we expect to be at full strength,” the coach assured.

Among those he expects to be ready for match action is star forward Gunnar Studenhofft, who suffered an arm injury at a recent overseas club tournament and has had his arm in a cast and sling. Sigsworth said there’s no doubt in his mind that the energetic goal scorer will be ready to hit the field when called upon.

Squad: Kameron Bennett, Jahrion Bodden, Luke Byles, Jaden Ebanks, Jahmai Griffiths, Ciaron Haylock, Tommy Kehoe, Jackson Kirkconnell, Micah O’Garro, David Pitcairn, Jonah Sigsworth, Joshua Small, Corey Smith, Gunnar Studenhofft, Victor Thompson Jr, Barry Dre Tibbetts, Daniel Wallace, Theo Whiteside.

Coaching staff: Bruce Sigsworth (head coach), Ian Lindo (Assistant Coach), Serge Sandy (Assistant Coach and Equipment Manager), Alexander Gonzalez (Goal Keeper Coach), Marilyn Conolly (Team Manager).

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