Football Guy writes: The cheapest sport to play is dying in Cayman. Fewer and fewer young persons in Cayman are participating in the most popular sport in the world. RIP Football? This current football season there are only 3 teams in CIFA’s U15 football league. There are only 3 teams in the U17 league, and apparently two of those teams might be from a single club.
The U13 boys’ league has not yet started and has been postponed to early 2017. There is no girls’ league yet and it is not known when, or if, it will ever begin. Last year there were ten U13 teams, six U15 teams and in the past there have been between six and eight U17 teams.
CIFA, Cayman’s governing body for football, has failed in a most epic manner. The election of a new president has counted for zero. No change. No improvement. And no sign of any in the near future. Several local coaches have said that this is the worse situation they have ever witnessed in our national sport.
The clubs are not blameless. Several major clubs with a team in the Cayman Premier League do not have a single youth team. They have refused to invest in youth football. CIFA requires clubs to have at least 2 youth teams, and despite the fact that half of the existing premier league clubs have no youth teams, CIFA has permitted them to remain as full members and play in the Premier League.
So these adults continue to prance about on Sunday night in front of dwindling crowds while our youth football suffers.
Clubs that do not have a youth team should be made to pack it up. They should not be permitted to play in any other local (or international) competitions until they participate in the development of our young players.
Sunset, Cayman Athletic and Academy Sports Club are the only local clubs which have consistently showed their support for youth football (Elite has also made an effort in the past but its youth programme is now in serious decline). But the youth league cannot survive on the efforts of three or four clubs.
Local football clubs have also failed over and over again to hold CIFA accountable. As the voting members they have the power to make changes within CIFA. They have the power to call a special congress to demand answers or resignations. Their apathy and continued cowardly stance towards CIFA has also contributed to the sport’s decline.
The only thing worse than the clubs’ lack of effort is CIFA’s governance and enforcement on this issue that can only be described as embarrassing. The clubs know how to play the deception game; they enter their premier league or first division team in the league and pretend that they have or are working on the required youth teams. They then reveal much later on that in fact they do not have a youth team. At that stage CIFA shrugs its shoulders and everyone happily moves on, except the youth of Cayman. The clubs know this and repeat the same process the following season.
Furthermore, CIFA has not made any efforts to provide the local clubs with the resources they need to help them invest in youth programmes, namely funding or administrative support.
Each member of the CIFA board should offer to resign now and let others rescue Cayman’s youth football. At this stage the only way is up because unfortunately football is not even on the operating table with a chance to survive. The patient is dead, and CIFA is responsible for that.