Teen player secures apprenticeship with English club

| 29/01/2015 | 6 Comments
Cayman News Service

Sebastian Martinez

(Grasspiece): Sixteen-year-old Sebastian Martinez is making local football history as the first young Caymanian to receive a two-year apprenticeship contract, starting this summer with professional football club Swindon Town FC in England. Martinez has been with the League One club’s prestigious Youth Academy since 2011 when he became the first young Caymanian to sign a development contract as a trainee with a professional football club.

Thanks to the efforts of Fitzroy Simpson, a former player with Swindon Town, Manchester City and Portsmouth and a former Reggae Boy who starred for Jamaica in the 1998 World Cup, Martinez’ dream of one day playing professional football began. With Simpson’s guidance, young Martinez has blossomed at Swindon Town’s Youth Academy.

Simpson said, “Seb’s progress is not unexpected. I have always had faith in his abilities and have high expectations for him. I have always said that Seb was a ‘diamond in the rough’ and with him coming to the United Kingdom at a young age, his abilities have been honed and this greatly increases the probability of him progressing to the next level. Special thanks must go out to the Swindon Town coaching staff and Academy Manager Jeremy Newton.”

This apprenticeship contract offer is in line with the Football Association’s (FA) Regulations, which requires all youth academies to make a decision for each player following their 16th birthday to either join as a full-time apprentice and complete a two-year Modern Apprenticeship in Sports and Excellence (MASE) or be released.

This contract is therefore very timely as Sebastian celebrated his 16th birthday in October 2014 and is now preparing for his mock exams and final O’ Level exams. He has already attained three O’ Levels in Chemistry (A), Biology (A) and Spanish (A). Placement in the apprenticeship scheme is offered along with an educational component as it requires the player to attend college two times per week to pursue either A’ Levels, qualifications with the Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) or gain National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ). The choice as to which educational route Sebastian takes will be made based on his O’ Level results this summer.

As well as the educational component, Sebastian is required to continue with full-time football training and has the opportunity to progress from the Swindon Town Academy’s youth teams to the club’s reserves. It should be noted that places in this apprenticeship scheme are very limited and demand for performance on the field is higher than ever.

Commenting on young Martinez’ achievements, Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden said, “It gives me great pleasure to learn of Sebastian’s apprenticeship offer by Swindon Town FC. This is a huge moment for the young man and for these small islands and on behalf of the government, I extend hearty and sincere congratulations to Sebastian, his parents, coaches and all those who have had a hand in helping him reaching this milestone. He is a great role model and has shown what is possible with hard work and commitment and the right attitude. It has been our privilege to have been able to support Sebastian in this quest over the past few years, and it proves that when we recognise talent and put resources behind it, anything is possible. We wish him continued success as he strives to fulfill his dream of becoming a professional footballer and establish the Cayman Islands as a name in British football.”

Although optimistic, Martinez is realistic about this new opportunity with Swindon Town FC. He realizes that making it this far is an amazing feat for any youngster, more so one from the Caribbean, and that there is no guarantee that he will make it to the next level. With this in mind, he remains very focussed and is committed more than ever to do everything he can to take full advantage of this new opportunity. The dream of all who play the beautiful game of football is to make it to the professional level and with Martinez’ progress, this dream is very much alive for one young Caymanian.

Jeffrey Webb, CONCACAF President and CIFA President, has followed his progress and in a letter addressed to the young player, Webb stated, “On behalf of CIFA and CONCACAF, I extend my sincerest congratulations to you (Sebastian). I wish you all the best as you embark upon this new venture, where you will have an opportunity to learn about the technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects of our beautiful sport. I have every confidence that you will continue to make the Cayman football family proud by setting an example for other young players to follow.”

Sebastian’s achievements serve as an inspiration for other young Caymanian footballers and through the efforts of those who have shown great faith and belief in his talents and academics, such as Fitzroy Simpson, Jeremy Newton, Osbourne Bodden, former Minister of Sports Mark Scotland, teachers and coaches from Cayman Prep & High School, local coaches and his parents, family and friends, we may yet one day see a ‘son of the soil’ grace the hallowed turf of some of the big names in English or European football.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Are there no suitably qualified English teenagers?

    • Anonymous says:

      We have 2 million unemployed in the UK. Why are we allowing this to happen. Oops its because we do not have the same narrow minded view of who should get jobs. Cayman while you are congratulating this fine young man, please remember how you treat foreigners to your shores.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Way to go Sebastian! Congrats and continue to do your best!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Props to GrassPiece Promotions for helping Cayman kids to get exposure to better Coaching and higher level of competitive football.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Good for you Sebastian! Go make Cayman proud.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is great news! Shows yet again that Cayman has talent and there can be success stories when our youth are provided with the right opportunities.

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