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Kickoff for Academy Sports Club Super-league

Sports 02 Feb, 2023 Follow News

(Left to right) Youth Coach Paul Byles, Technical Director Virgil Seymour and Hon. Minister Isaac Rankin pictured with kids representing each of the teams in the Super League

The young referrees giving red and yellow cards

The kids love playing soccer

The kids in the teams learn new skils

Proud soccer dads and moms never miss a Saturday

lining up, ready for the kickoff

by Christopher Tobutt 

Academy Sports Club is a football club with a difference. Over the years it has encouraged thousands of young kids to get together with their teammates to play the Beautiful Game and  on Saturday 28 Jan Their Super League – 7 under 9 teams and 7 under 9 teams – kicked off on the Triple C playing fields. That means 10 more Saturdays of serious football and serious fun combined with sunshine and fresh air. And that’s got to be a really great combination.

So special, in fact that Hon Acting Minister of Sports Isaac Rankine had come all the way from East End to cheer the teams on, alongside all the proud soccer moms and soccer dads making videos from the bleachers. “You can probably tell by my physique that I am not a footballer,” he began, “But as you know, football is where everyone in Cayman, except for me, has played the game, and I know you can’t wait to join in and be part of it.”

That was very true. One of the young players was grumbling about having to join in the opening ceremony, until someone told him that was what the World Cup players had done, too. He just wanted to get on with the football.

“I had the privilege of sitting down to chat with Paul (Byles) and Virgil (Seymour) last year and I was pretty amazed and pleased with what they have accomplished over the past several years with our kids. They have supported and encouraged programmes for all ages and skills over the years, and I am pleased to see the level of participation they have not only in the local leagues, but when they travel overseas. We know that every child can achieve their potential with the right programmes, coaches and help and this helps them build not only their athletic skills but also their personal skills as well.

The club’s technical Director, Virgil Seymour, explained just why the U9 and U11 teams that make up the Super League are so super. “This is to give the kids more opportunity to play football. Its basically an extension of the Primary Football League which kicks off in September,” he said, “After doing this for 14 or 15 years we realized that the kids don’t play enough football,  which they should be doing - a lot more football and an early age.

The club couldn’t function without lots of volunteers who coach, act as referees, or serve drinks and food to the kids, and generally look after them. Some of the refs are very young themselves, and there was about a dozen of them aged between 15 and 16. Jerry Alle, 16, said, “It’s a good opportunity to learn more about football and give back to the kids who are taking part. Being a referee also builds different skills like leadership skills and taking new responsibilities, delegating skills, and teamworking skills and it allows us to build a good character.”

Then there are all the soccer moms and soccer dads who take their kids out to play every weekend without fail. They love the game, and they love to see their children enjoying it and learning new skills and making new friends:  “My son is seven. I always love football and I encourage him to practice . it’s a sport you can enjoy playing in many different conditions,” one of them, Max, said.

Youth Coach Paul Byles publicly thanked everyone who helps make it happen. “We’re doing this for a good reason. The first good reason is just to have more football, and for kids to have more fun. Its really as simple as that. We know they don’t get enough football so we said, if there’s a problem, we as a club will try fixing it.”

Once a year the MVP – Most Valuable Player – from the U9s and U11s gets two tickets, one for his or herself, and one for a guardian, to take them to a big tournament in America. But that’s not all. The Club also charters a plane to take all the kids to take part in a special football tournament in Minnesota once a year.

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