U20s want to play in Cayman Premier League

Members of the team during U17 World Cup qualifying last year.

If the head coach of the Cayman Islands National U20 Men’s Football Team gets his way, the unit will play in the Cayman Premier League for the 2017/18 season in preparation for the U20 World Cup qualifiers next year.

Ernie ‘Gillie’ Seymour said that would be a perfect one-off opportunity to prepare the team for international duty against the best local competition.

“If we’re serious about developing our youth players for the future, I think it is a brilliant idea because this is some of the most enthusiastic young football players we have right now that don’t have too many (sic) bad habits yet,” Seymour said via a WhatsApp message.

His plan is to mirror what happened in Trinidad and Tobago in 2007-2008 as that country’s U20 team prepared for the U20 World Cup in Egypt, for which they eventually qualified.

Ernie Gillie Seymour (file photo)

What Seymour is proposing would see any players on Cayman Premier League clubs released to play with the national team for the upcoming campaign that is scheduled to kick off in October. However, he said with most of the squad being drawn from teams outside the top-flight, he does not expect there to be a major impact on clubs.

“If the clubs are interested in helping us develop these youngsters, then they would support it 100%, which is what they should be doing anyhow,” Seymour said. “They wouldn’t be playing for points to win the league. It would be for the experience and help us save money from having to play a lot of friendlies at home and abroad,” said Seymour, whose club – Cayman Athletic – was relegated to the First Division after finishing bottom of the table in the Cayman Premier League last season.

CaymanSportsBuzz.com spoke to a member of the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) Executive, who said the proposal will be put to the group when it meets sometime this month. It must also get the support of the clubs. Another option that could be put on the table is to have the team play a regular schedule against the top-flight clubs but do so outside the regular run of the league during the week.

In July, 50 players were selected to the national U20 training squad to compete for spots on the team that will represent the Cayman Islands at the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under 20 World Cup Playoffs, scheduled for July/August 2018.

The squad: Albertini Holness, Callhan Studenhofft, Zion Coe, Shawn Scott (Cayman Brac), Jelani Campbell, Jose La Rosa-Ebanks, Devonte Morejon, D’Andre Rowe, Oladapo Bailey, Rohelio Wright, Ricardo Wright, Francisco Murillo-Johnson, Javier Ardilla, Jabari Campbell, Daniel Manderson, Jalen Walters, Ackeem Hyde, Eric Wilson Jr., Andre Alexander, Andrew Alexander, Maikel Ebanks, Ricardo Damasso, Nicholas Chung, Rico Bodden, Trey Ebanks, Navaro Pearson, Kion Parchmont, Kareem Foster, Jayden Downey, Alexander Clarke-Ramirez, Bryan Ramoon, Sullivan Zelaya, Gonzalo McLaughlin Jr., Jamar Frederick, Kailian Miller, Dominic Owens, Cody Ebanks, Jerome Lawson, Shakur Silburn, Tyrese Berry, Kaled Giron, Shaquille Roberts, Adebayo Oremule, Jiffon Robinson, Louis Gordon (overseas), Kameron Mendez (overseas), Corey Mellaneo (overseas), Winston Wood (overseas), Leighton Thomas (overseas) and Kray Foster (overseas).

The nucleus of the U20 squad has been together since 2011 participating in several local and overseas tournaments and camps in preparation for the various Youth World Cup competitions.

As the U15 national team in 2015, they finished third in the CFU Under 15 Boys’ Championships in St. Maarten and as the U17 national team, they finished runners-up to reigning Under 17 Caribbean Champions Haiti in the CFU Under 17 World Cup Playoffs Group 2 qualifiers in August 2016.

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