Academy Sports Club won the U13 Silver championship at the Schwan USA Cup in Minnesota last Saturday.
The local sports club which is well known for its focus on youth football, participated in the Schwan USA Cup with two teams in the U11 and U13 age groups.
“Both teams did extraordinarily well”, said Coach Paul Byles. “Our U11s won their group with one of the best defensive records in their age group, and made it to the semi finals and our U13s won their group without conceding a goal and eventually the U13 Silver Championship”.
Byles said that both teams trained hard for several months and dealt with their challenges well. During the competition, both teams had tough quarter final matches with the U11s winning on penalties and the U13s winning a very physical game by a 2-1 margin. The U13s eventually won their Championship match against Boca Juniors, a good Mexican team, by a 2-nil margin.
Academy took 27 players and had the support of 18 parents on the trip. The club stressed that they were not only representing Academy but also the Cayman Islands as there are many international teams at the event.
“Whenever we travel as a club we are very well aware that we are also representing our country and this is something that we always reinforce with the players. We always take a lot of pride in being able to show the world that the Cayman Islands has a lot of great young football talent”, he added.
Byles added that the Schwan Cup is also a great experience generally for the players.
“The nature of the tournament is that there are many teams from different age groups, with thousands of youth footballers in a huge facility. When you have that it creates a very exciting atmosphere for the players as they get to meet people from all over the world.”
The Schwan Cup is thought to be the largest youth tournament in the world; the event showcases more than 1,016 teams and 14,000 soccer players from over 17 states and 17 countries. All games are played at the National Sports Center, certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest soccer complex on earth.
CONCACAF President and FIFA Vice President and Cayman Islands Football Association President Mr Jeffrey Webb said, “Congratulations to the Academy team on their success at the Schwan Cup in Minnesota. Once again Academy has been a wonderful representative for our country on the regional stage and we look forward to more success from them in the future.”
Virgil Seymour Head Coach at Academy said “ we are very proud to see the fruits of the hard work of these teams which represents the youngest players at our club. This is how you build a good football program, from the bottom up and we are happy to see some success with our general approach.” On behalf of our Board of Directors and the entire Academy family I wish to congratulate Coach Paul Byles for doing an excellent job again with these teams.”
“This year’s U11 team consists of the same players which made it to the U10 finals at the Disney Youth Cup last year, so we can see that there is a consistent performance from these youngsters a year later”, said Mr. Byles.
Byles said the players are still very excited and already talking about where they will compete internationally next year, but everyone will now take a well deserved rest before pre season training for the local CIFA leagues.
Academy U13s also won both the FA Cup and league titles in the CIFA league this season and the U12 team which included primarily the U11 players that went to Minnesota also had a great local season as they won both of CIFA’s U12 Rallies.
Academy also thanked the team managers, assistant coaches, parents and corporate sponsors for their support.
Photo Caption: U13 Champions Photo – front row (l-r): Alfredo Whittaker jr, Conor Crighton, Rohelio Wright, Enzaghi Bush, Chris Alberga, Victor Thompson, Adam McWatt, Raishon Bennette, Nicky Polloni. Back row (l-r): Coach Paul Byles, Team Captain Dominic Owens, Dimitri Bodden, Josh Ogarro, Luke Byles, Shay Lalor, Callhan Studenhofft, Mathew Haynes, Justyn Powell. Missing from photo: Team Manager Morven Bodden.