The Cayman Islands national Under-15 team recently returned home following an exclusive Celtic FC ID camp, held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
This trip presented itself not only as a unique chance for the boys to develop their skills but also as a stepping stone to the CONCACAF U15 Boys Championship in August. For many of these boys, this summer marks their first appearances for the Cayman Islands, so preparation is key.
Bruce Sigsworth, the team’s head coach, noted how the Celtic Football Club ID Camp in Bradenton is hosted at the same location as next month’s CONCACAF tournament, so this allowed the boys and coaches to familiarise themselves with the facilities.
Sigsworth said: “The trip to IMG for the Celtic ID Camp was both a challenging and rewarding experience, for the boys individually and as a team, learning their strengths and where there is need for improvement. They were part of presentations on the attributes of a youth footballer and a Celtic Academy player, clearly seeing the commitment and mind set needed.”
The camp ran from June 8-12, and involved expert field sessions, sport psychology sessions and sessions with professional coaches. Luke Byles, 15, outlined how this trip presented a rare chance the players have not experienced previously. He said: “We were able to showcase the skills we have developed over the last four years of training together in a new environment and in front of professional coaches.”
Sigsworth highlighted before the trip how resources such as goalkeeping coaches will be heavily used as they are a resource hard to find in the Cayman Islands. National goalkeeper, Theo Ritch-Whiteside, said: “Gaining goalkeeping specific training was a new and welcome experience, and allowed me to fully focus and tailor training to my needs, while identifying how I can work with the defensive players and keep a clean sheet in future.”
The boys’ team manager, Marilyn Conolly, noted that in addition to technical skills, the boys’ social development is invaluable in the long-term success of the national team.
“This experience developed many of the social and mental skills such as leadership, commitment, personal responsibility, and discipline needed to succeed in August,” she said. “The boys have been provided with expert knowledge and an environment with which they can develop not only as individuals, but as a team.”
The next phase of preparation saw the team continue to train and take part in a local camp over the weekend.
The upcoming CONCACAF championship in August will see Cayman play in the third division against some of the best young players in fixtures against Aruba, Bonaire and Saint Martin. It is such an important milestone for these talented players, who will hopefully move on to play in the U17 World Cup Qualifiers and one day be a key national senior team member.
This trip would not have been possible without the support of the Cayman Islands Government’s Ministry of Sports, Walkers, CUC, Tower Marketing, Excel Sports Management, Progressive Distributors Ltd and Captain Asley’s Watersports.