GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands — The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) kicked off the inaugural CONCACAF Under-15 Championship on Tuesday in Grand Cayman.
The tournament will be contested through August 25 among the national teams of 23 member associations, making it the largest CONCACAF competition of its kind to be played in a single country.
“It is important for coaches and players to have competitions for development,” signaled CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb. “This tournament was conceived to intensify our grassroots efforts while helping to identify and develop talent that will eventually create our future stars.”
The inaugural tournament is an initiative of Webb, recognizing the need for a concentrated effort that would support and grow football at the youth level. The Under-15 Championship, which will be held every two years, is expected to strengthen the love of the game among young players and foster a commitment to the sport that will grow along with them.
In addition to the sporting advantages of introducing players between the ages of 13-15 to a higher-level of football on a regional stage, the Under-15 tournament is bringing nearly 700 participants to the island during the low-season for tourism. For the Cayman Islands, it is a win-win scenario.
“This tournament is a great developmental experience for local football teams and we thank CONCACAF and president Jeffrey Webb for having the foresight to bring this level tournament to fruition and for also selecting the Cayman Islands as the host country for the inaugural event,” Cayman Islands Minister of Sports, Osbourne Bodden said during a press conference on Tuesday.
Countries that will be competing in the tournament include Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, El Salvador, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Saint Martin, St Maarten, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the US Virgin Islands.
For first-round play, the squads have been drawn into four groups – three of six teams and one comprised of five teams. Each team will play the others in its group once. The group winners will advance to the semifinals on August 23.
The match for third place and the final will take place two days later at the same venue.