Two Caymanian youth footballers have been selected to train at the highly-rated Manchester City Academy in England. Gunnar Studenhofft and Ethan Rivers will train alongside Under-14 players and coaches from the English club for a week, starting 21 November, 2016.
The opportunity came about because of Manchester City’s participation in the Cayman Airways Invitational U15 Football Cup hosted by the West Bay Sports Foundation (WBSF) here in May. Manchester City won the competition that featured teams from the Cayman Islands, England, United States, Cuba, Honduras and Jamaica.
“At the West Bay Sports Foundation, we always look to provide opportunities for young players to reach their full potential. The opportunity to train with Manchester City will only help to foster their development,” said WBSF co-founder, Arden Rivers.
Initially, the plan was for a player and a coach to travel to Manchester but a decision was taken to pay to send two players instead. Studenhofft is a member of Elite Sports Club and played in the tournament earlier this year as part of the Academy SC Select team. Rivers is currently playing for Windemere Prep in Orlando, Florida. They are both 14 years old.
“We wanted to give the experience to more players, so we took that decision to send two youngsters like we did last year with Orlando City,” Rivers explained.
The younger Rivers has been winning the praise of his coaches in Florida. “Ethan has shown great commitment to the Windermere Prep soccer program since arriving at the school this year. He is very dedicated to the game and has a great attitude in games and practices. Ethan shows that he has great footwork in his game play and has an eye for a pass. He has been a great addition to the Windermere Prep Varsity Soccer team,” said Jonathan Griffiths, head varsity coach at Windemere Prep.
Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden, whose ministry was one of the sponsors of the 2016 edition of the tournament, was understandably happy with the development.
“I’m very satisfied to learn that two young men have been selected by City to train at their facility in Manchester. This shows the benefit that can accrue from these developmental tournaments, and we expect more of this as we move ahead. I wish the young players well and trust they will benefit greatly from the experience. Thanks to City for this great opportunity,” he said.
Two other Caymanian players, goalkeeper Albertini Holness of Cayman Athletic Sports Club and Cody Ebanks of Elite Sports Club, were given a similar opportunity by WBSF in November, 2015, when they were sent to train with the academy at Orlando City, the franchise which plays Major League Soccer.
Rivers told CaymanSportsBuzz.com there were other opportunities for youth players and coaches to train with clubs overseas coming out of the hosting of the Cayman Airways Invitational U15 Football Cup. He said IMG Academy in Florida, LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders, which all played here in 2016, are all ready to accept players and coaches from Cayman for a week.
Coaches with players who are interested can contact either of the WBSF co-founders: Arden Rivers (927-7011) or Mervyn Smith (916-4549).