Sport

Cavalier set to expose youth at Gothia Cup in Sweden

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

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Cavalier Soccer Club appear set to achieve much from their participation in the Gothia Cup in Sweden, but according to club chairman Rudolph Speid, greater exposure will come to Jamaica.

Speid will be a part of a delegation which includes 18 talented young players who will make the trek to the European continent for the July 15-21 tournament dubbed the Youth World Cup in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Cavalier SC will be the first Caribbean team to be invited to the Gothia Tipselit Trophy Under-17 division of the tournament, which will take place during the Gothia World Youth Cup tournament.

A total of 24 teams will take part in the tournament, including 12 Swedish Premier League teams, with the next 12 teams coming from different parts of the world.

With the Gothia Cup being regarded as the world's largest and most international youth football tournament, Speid believes the tour provides an opportunity for Jamaicans to play against teams from all over the world.

This, he said, can only help Jamaica in their quest to qualify for the Olympic Games and youth World Cup tournaments.

“We have invested a lot of money in our youth programme; it cost us a lot to go to Cayman three times, plus we have done other things, and as you can see the [Red Stripe] Premier League has groomed a lot of these players. So it always nice when you put plans in place and see it come to fruition,” Speid told the Jamaica Observer during a press briefing at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Headquarters yesterday.

He added: “But as I said before we are not playing up the Cavalier angle on the international stage… we want to play out a Jamaican angle. So we are going to forfeit playing in our black and white and actually play in our national colours.

“We are going to be marching out with the Jamaican flag and we want the world to see that Jamaica can play football. That is what we are going to Sweden to achieve, of course Cavalier will achieve something, but Jamaica's exposure is more important.”

Cavalier's invitation to the tournament came two years ago when they displayed their quality at two Under-15 tournaments in the Cayman Islands comprising national youth and overseas academies.

After finishing third in the group on their first outing in May, they returned to the tournament six weeks later in June and netted 22 goals, while conceding once on their way to lifting the crown.

They defeated IMG, the United States of America's national academy and Gillingham academy from the United Kingdom, as well as Tottenham Hotspur UK academy team in the final.

In last year's tournament Cavalier ended third after suffering their lone defeat in the semi-final to eventual champions, the Cuban national Under-15 team that got by Manchester City in the final.

Speid pointed out that at least five players from that team have played in the Red Stripe Premier League, which has aided in them gaining further experience, while 14 of his 18-member squad were a part of the previous National Under-15 and Under-17 teams.

It is understood that up to five players just past the age of 17 will be allowed to participate.

“So it kind of vindicates all the decisions that we made as the management of Cavalier when we spend more money on our youth players than on our senior players which most clubs do the opposite,” Speid noted.

“So yes, Cavalier will be viewed as the vehicle because I saw the need to expose young Jamaican players to international tournaments, but we don't want it to be too much of a Cavalier thing.

“I want it to be a national thing where players are exposed and the Europeans can understand that we have good teams here that are worthy to be invited to tournaments of this calibre,” he reasoned.

The Cavalier delegation is set to depart the island on July 10 for Norway where they will host a four-day camp to become acclimatised to the artificial surface before heading over to Sweden for competition.

According to Speid, the cost for the 21-member delegation is US$50,000, which is approximately J$6.3 million.

With that equating to an approximate cost of $300,000 per player, Speid is calling on corporate Jamaica and other sponsors to come on board to assist in what he describes as an investment in Jamaica's football.

The team has already received sponsorship from a Swedish company, Melby Gard, and Puma's International arm.

“This team will include players that dazzled in the recently concluded schoolboy football season and are now parading their skills in the Jamaica's Premier League.

“When we go there it is for players to signal to the world that Jamaican players have the talent to possibly succeed in Europe and for people in that part of the world to understand that Jamaica is not just for sprinting, we can actually play the game,” Speid ended.

Squad: Kaheem Parris, Jamoy Topey, Jeadine White, Nicque Daley, Omar Thompson, Dwayne Atkinson, Michael Allen, Khalfani Brown, Giovani Thomas, Dujon Grant, Nickache Murray, D'Andre Miller, Javon Francis, Isaac Scott, Okeefe Cunningham, Shaniel Thomas, Tarique Barrett, Orville Smikle, Khalifah Richards, Javon Cole, Roberto Campbell.

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