Young footballers make move to England

L-R: Jackson Kirkconnell, Justin Byles, Immanuel Duran.

Three young Caymanian footballers who have sharpened their skills under the tutelage of coaches at Excel Sports Management Ltd. (ESM) are taking the next step in their development as they move to Ipswich, England to attend St Joseph’s College.

Justin Byles (13), Immanuel Duran (13), and Jackson Kirkconnell (15) will be attending the prestigious boarding school in Suffolk starting this September. This opportunity stems from a relationship between ESM and St. Joseph’s College. In July St. Joseph’s College Head of Sport, Mr. Anthony O’Riordan visited Cayman along with Ian Lewis from Xplore to introduce a newly formed football and education programme; the International Football Academy in association with Ipswich Town FC.

Working in partnership with St Joseph’s College and Ipswich Town FC (ITFC), Xplore is offering international partners an exclusive opportunity to recruit students on to a unique study abroad programme. The boys will be overseen by former Premier League star Darren Eadie and will play in the Independent Schools Football League (ISFL) under Darren’s mentorship with the support of Ipswich Town FC. For aspiring footballers all over the world, this brand-new academy offers the very best in coaching and player development combined with quality education and student support.

Students attending the academy will have access to dedicated ITFC coaches, whilst being fully integrated into College life. Coaching sessions will take place both at College and at the ITFC academy training facility. Coaching staff will also be present throughout the school day at the College; and College staff will be present, when appropriate, at off campus training sessions. The boys will also receive strength and conditioning coaching from fulltime dedicated specialists.

Anthony O’Riordan says; “This is a new initiative, not just regionally but nationally. We are very much like a family at the school, with a strong emphasis on community and diversity”.

“While we’re sad to see these promising talents leave our programme, I’m happy that they have been able to take advantage of the opportunity that presented itself to them through their relationship with ESM,” said ESM Director Virgil Seymour. “This is what ESM is about: providing a solid foundation for young players in the Cayman Islands and providing them with academic and footballing opportunities that help their overall development as productive members of our community.

Kirkconnell said he was delighted to return to England. “I am really excited to be heading back to England not only for football but for school as well. Having Manny and Justin there will make the transition easier for all of us. I want to excel in the classroom and on the pitch with the English coaches,” said the member of the Cayman Islands National Under-17 Boys Football Team.

Byles and Duran have represented the Cayman Islands at the Under-14 and Under-15 levels, including at the recently concluded 2018 Caribbean Football Union Boys’ Under-14 Challenge Series. All three are also members of Academy Sports Club.

Following their time at the St Joseph’s International Football Academy there are a number of ways in which the students can continue their footballing and/or educational development.

For those very talented individuals there is the possibility of being offered a professional contract at ITFC or another professional club in the UK through Darren Eadie’s extensive network of contacts. Alternatively, students can look to continue with their education in the UK by applying for universities and possibly gaining football scholarships.

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