Reigning Cayman Islands Premier League and FA Cup title holders Bodden Town FC are keen on adding international silverware to their collection by going all the way in the inaugural CONCACAF Caribbean Shield which commenced in Santiago, Dominican Republic on Friday.
But regardless of their run of results in the competition, the Cayman Island club is already seeing itself as winners as they intend to take every bit of the experience back to the islands as they set out on a journey to climb the ladders of club football in the region.
Ramon Sealy, the captain for Bowden Town FC and a Cayman Islands national team goalkeeper described the team’s appearance as the biggest thing in the club’s history.
“This is huge for us. We definitely needed a bit of a push as we’ve been stagnated for a little while. We have a lot of talent, not only in the Cayman Islands but around the Caribbean. Sometimes we don’t get as much exposure as the professional clubs so a tournament like this which gives us a chance to showcase our abilities and talents is huge for us. It shows the development of the game in CONCACAF and hopefully we can use it as a platform to step up to the next level.
Sealy believes that a good run by Bodden Town will show clubs back in his home island that they too can aspire to playing in CONCACAF competitions.
“It will show the teams back home that we can compete at any level. We have the facilities, we have the players and we just need the mindset now to take it to the next level and us doing well can show them down there that if we can do it, then they can all do it and we should all be striving for that level,” he said.
As to what to expect from his side, he added, “You can expect a lot of hard work, good football and hopefully a lot of goals. I feel that if we can put our game plan on the day, then we can put together a few good results and move onto the next round,” Sealy said.
Bodden Town coach Danu Smith added, “This is a great opportunity for us not only to improve our standard of our football playing against other teams from other countries but get a little bit off exposure as well so we can take whatever we get from here and improve our local league as well.”
Smith added that there was a fair level of expectation back on the island about the team’s showing in the competition.
“It’s our first appearance in the Caribbean Shield but it’s the third time in a CONCACAF competition. We had a warm reception and we are hoping the home community is cheering us on and that we can represent well. We want to keep improving and come out with better results with a complete team performance to make our country proud. If we can capitalise on the opportunity here and try and step up our game so teams back home can try to emulate us and improve the league as well.
“It’s a great gesture by CONCACAF to have this competition as it gives clubs that are not normally able to compete in a professional setting, a chance to feel what it is like to go against top teams and possibly qualify to eventually a greater tournament and we welcome this,” Smith stated.
The Caribbean Club Shield is a newly launched championship forming the base of the CONCACAF club competition platform. It features eleven teams from eleven different Member Association leagues, all of which are working with CONCACAF’s Development Department towards a long-term vision to professionalize the club game across the region.
The top team from each of the three groups plus the best second placed team will advance to the semi-finals. The winner of the 2018 CONCACAF Caribbean Club Shield, once it fulfills CONCACAF Regional Club Licensing criteria, will have the opportunity to face the fourth-place finisher of the 2018 Caribbean Club Championship in a playoff match, to determine the fourth Caribbean representative in the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF League.
The Final of the CONCACAF Caribbean Shield will be played on April 21st at the Estadio Cibao FC in Santiago