Jeffrey Webb speaks at press conference on August 12, 2013, in advance of the CONCACAF Under-15 Championship, which is taking place in the Cayman Islands.
GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands -- The Cayman Islands sporting fraternity is buzzing with excitement as it hosts the inaugural CONCACAF Under-15 Championship, starting Tuesday with five matches at two venues.
AUGUST 13, 2013
Truman Bodden Sports Complex (George Town, Cayman Islands)
US Virgin Islands v Bermuda, 4:30 p.m.
Jamaica v Grenada, 6:00 p.m.
Cayman Islands v St. Marteen, 7:30 p.m.
Ed Bush Stadium (West Bay, Cayman Islands)
St. Lucia v Belize, 4:30 p.m.
Aruba v Bahamas, 6:00 p.m.
All games are 70 minutes long (two, 35-minute halves) and admission through the Group Stage is free.
Months of preparation have gone into staging the 23-nation tournament.
Despite a population of only 55,000, Cayman has a proud record of hosting major sporting events. In December, it welcomed the Women's World Squash Championships and has also seen Olympic 100m champion Usain Bolt run at the Cayman Invitational. The CONCACAF Under-15 Championship, however, this is the largest-ever in terms of the number of participants.
Interest in Cayman at staging the CONCACAF competition is immense and much of that can be attributed to its sheer magnitude. Nearly 700 players, coaches, staff and dignitaries are will be based here over a two-week period.
Additionally, from a local perspective, tournament operations required 200 volunteers -- 260 came forward quickly.
August is normally a quiet time of the year in Cayman, but local businesses are now enjoying a welcome boost.
“I know a lot of the hotels are full and we’re still looking for some rooms because of this competition,” CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb said. “I think the Marriott is completely sold out and also the Westin and Holiday Inn. Next week, we also start our coaches course, so there will be even more visitors.
Bruce Blake, Vice President of the Cayman Islands Football Association, thanked the many parties involved in putting it all together and singled out CONCACAF for special praise.
“We’re the organizing committee but we do rely on them (CONCACAF) for their expertise and we do thank for them for that,” Blake said in reference to CONCACAF providing staff, information and experience. “We’re looking forward to an outstanding tournament and would like to thank all the support we have received and we’re looking forward to an exciting two weeks.”
Webb, a Caymanian businessman, added: “For CONCACAF, we organize competitions from Under-15 all the way up to the Gold Cup, which is what you saw last week. We had close to 500,000 people in attendance and our approach at CONCACAF is the exact same for this one.
“The same professionalism, branding of the stadiums, security personnel, infrastructure that we put in place at the stadiums for the semi-finals and final of the Gold Cup is the same approach even for the Under-15 competition.”
Webb sees the Under-15 tournament as fulfillment of his development program.
“I’ve always believed that my country is the best in the world and there is nothing that we can’t do,” he noted. “And really, I think this is a step to show the Cayman government and the population that once we are united when it comes to sports tourism it is something we can achieve.”