By Christopher Tobutt
A group of kids, some big and some little, pass the football to one another on the perfectly green Astroturf of the Theonline L. McCoy Primary school, just like the pros. That’ll be just one of Cayman’s FC International football camps for kids, and you can tell that the kids love it. They love having fun, but they also love the sense of self-discipline and fulfilment the camps give them. It makes them feel proud and good about themselves, just like the smart new pro’s football shirt each of the kids gets given.
FC International has been hosting free summer football camps for girls and boys between the ages for 4 and 16 for more than 20 years, and during that time they have touched the lives of thousands of children, giving them something positive to aim at during the long school holidays. There are normally several camps a year, one aimed at each district. Some of them last for a whole week and some for just one day. This year they have been a bit later than normal – October rather than August, because of the coronavirus messing up schedules. Theoline L. McCoy Primary School in Bodden Town was a great place for a one-day camp, especially because the school was recently renamed after one of the great football coaches and mentors of the Cayman Islands. Everyone in Bodden Town loves their football.
FC International Technical Director Elbert McLean said, “What we focus on is discipline, because they will never be successful in life without discipline, so they dribbling the ball, and technical aspects of the game, ball control, ball passing “We’ve had between 40 and 50 kids here today.”
Taken all together, the camp touches the lives of at least 300 kids in all the districts, including Cayman Brac. Kennedy Ebanks President of FC international explained that it is a non-profit organization. “We also have guest speakers speaking to them about prison or problems that you can see before they happen going forward through life, and the importance of having respect. We give them T shirts, and we give them balls, and provide a free lunch. I wish to thank all of our sponsors and supporters for contributions,” he said.
Jarrett Terry, one of the soccer-dads who, despite having to work on Saturday, found enough time to bring his boys and six-year old Kaelim to the camp. “I think these camps are good because it brings the community out. Its exposure for the kids to let them know there’s a whole island interested in this sport,” he said. Having her photo taken in front of lots of boy footballers, eight-year-old Maci said, “I like football. I like it here but I haven’t learned anything because I already know how to play football.”
Jarren Bennett, 13, said, “I like being here at this camp because it is fun and it teaches me a lesson. I have been going to these football camps every year since 2015.” Gilberto Caraballo 14, “I’ve been on about five camps so far. I like learning new skills like shooting and dibbling.”
Lots of adults like Isaac Rankine give up their time to help, because they feel it’s so important. Mr. Rankine brought 16 children in a minibus from East End so that they wouldn’t miss out. “Today we are glad to have participated by bringing the upcoming young footballers to participate in this football camp,” he said.