GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – The Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) presented an encouraging progress report to the local clubs at the annual Congress at the Westin Resort, recently.
In his address, CIFA President Jeffrey Webb highlighted positive improvements in the association’s financial statements, infrastructure upgrading, hosting of international competitions and player development.
“CIFA has made significant progress in the past twelve months, both on and off the field of play,” Webb said. “We have created several opportunities for our players and officials at every level and we continue to see the benefits from these investments.”
In the past year the Cayman Islands has hosted the inaugural CONCACAF Boys’ U-15 (August 2013), Girls’ U-15 (August 2014) and the CONCACAF Womens’ U-20 Championships (January 2014).
“The investments in facilities development by the government has helped CIFA in bidding and successfully hosting CONCACAF competitions,” Webb affirmed.
“The Championships have provided us the opportunity to engage new sponsors, solidify our long term relationships with Maples and Calder, DART and Foster’s and expand our revenue streams. As a result CIFA has rebounded from difficult financial times.”
“We must remain on this upward trend.”
The clubs are the immediate beneficiaries from CIFA’s improving financial stature. CIFA has increased the prize money for the premier league by 30 percent and provided an additional bonus to clubs in good standing with the association.
Reigning Men’s Premier League winners Bodden Town FC received the winner’s cheque of seven thousand five hundred ($7,500) dollars. In 2015, the Premiership winners will receive ten thousand ($10,000) dollars.
With the objective of improving club participation and performance CIFA will also implement the CONCACAF Club Licensing program in the next twelve months with an aim of bringing local clubs in line with best practices regionally.
The Club Licensing programme helps clubs improve their administrative structure and processes which CIFA hopes will impact the quality of play on the field.
In the past year CIFA has engineered a focus on youth player development through the Grassroots Programme. Programme Director Darrel Rankine reported that over 550 children registered in the programme in the last term February to June.
Legal firm Maples and Calder sponsors programme, which targets 6-12 year olds and is centered on creating fun and engaging exercises that will encourage greater participation while introducing fundamental technical skills.
“We have made great strides this year, with a steady growth in numbers, Rankine said.
The programme’s growth can be hampered if more qualified and interested coaches don’t become involved.
“We need more young players and coaches interested to usher this next generation of football players into the future. Without good coaching we will not develop good players on the pitch and solid citizens off it.”
The new initiatives reported on at the congress are all part of CIFA’s overall strategic plan.
After months of consultation with stakeholders and the inclusion of recommendations from a task force that reviewed all leagues and competitions; the official strategic plan document was presented to the Congress by Mark Scotland, CIFA’s Youth Development Director.
The main objective of the strategic plan is to provide a road map for the sport’s development at all levels in the Cayman Islands.