By Walter Reich

Cedar Boys U13s quest to retake the Lyford Cay/KPMG Football Fest trophy begins this weekend in Bahamas while the Cedar Girls U13 team look to build on the experience they gained last year with veterans Eva Carey and Millie Cottreau providing leadership and guidance.

For over 10 years, Cedar International School has sent U13 teams to Bahamas to participate in the International Baccalaureate (IB) School based boys and girls football tournament sponsored by Lyford Cay International School and KPMG. On the beautifully manicured grass football pitches of Lyford Cay International School, the Cedar squads will compete against IB schools based in Cayman, Turks & Caicos, Jamaica and Bahamas. Those teams will be sure to give Cedar, despite Cedar’s relatively small size compared to the other IB Schools, a lot of respect given Cedar’s remarkable championship winning efforts at the 2016 tournament with the boys team not losing a single match on their march to that title.

“Our preparation always begins with tryouts because it’s important for the kids to understand that everyone gets a chance to make the team. Through tryouts they learn some of life’s many lessons. Hard work, communication, focus, ability to juggle priorities, dedication, perseverance, good conduct and team spirit” are just a few of those lessons noted Asst. Coach Walter Reich. “From there, first team players are selected and they need to remain committed, show up to practice, stay in good standing with Cedar and do well academically otherwise they jeopardize losing their spot to chosen reserves“. Overall, it was great to see so many players tryout. We always encourage those who don’t make the team not to hang their heads but to keep putting in the practice so that they might make the next tournament team.”

Tryouts for the team began in earnest during the first week of school in early September with 3 times a week practices organized by UEFA A Certified and Cedar Athletic Director John Reilly and Assistant Coach and ex BVI National Football team player Alessandro Palladino together with Walter Reich. The competition for spots on the team was fierce especially for the boys. Once the teams and reserves were selected practices continued at the same pace with some players practicing more than 4 times a week.

Coach John led the training sessions and was impressed with the focus, desire and development of each of the players over the past two months. “On the boys’ side of the draw, we are taking a team capable of winning this year’s tournament” remarked Coach John Reilly. “There are a number of extremely talented players on the team, the question is whether they can play as a team and emulate what the 2016 team of boys achieved”. “Winning a championship is one of the most difficult things to do with such quality teams involved – we will see if this team of individually gifted players can gel as a team, buy into the team philosphy and truly play for each other while making the required individual sacrifices to bring collective success.”

Coach John further commented “what makes this tournament special is that players (in pairs) billet with host families from Bahamas. Even the coaches billet with teachers from Lyford Cay. In some instances, lasting friendships are formed as evidenced from previous tournaments. The U13s are responsible for representing themselves, their families, their school and the BVI in a proper and respectful way – it’s a true learning experience that extends well beyond the football pitch”.
This year’s Cedar boys’ edition consists of keeper Toby Lane, striker Ty’Rique Charles, pivots Ethan Mohamed and Lochlan Geyser, wingers and backs – Quinn Pascoe Woodfield, James Tucker-Davis, Alexander McKenzie, William Sanders and Quacey Cooper.

The girls’ team consists of veteran players Eva Carey and Millie Cottreau, along with second year players Isla Meyers, Evie Stanton playing in the forward positions, Maisy Sutherland Pilch (Keeper), and finally left and right backs Aerin Westlake and Lily Graham. Rounding out the team is rookie Emily Jackson who will play in various roles. “The girls’ commitment evident in their enthusiasm and willingness in some cases to practice 4 to 5 times a week” noted Coach Alessandro Palladino

Walter Reich noted “Our soccer sisters program on Thursdays after school is proving very popular amongst the girls and it’s because of that success that we are not surprised that a number of younger girls have made the team. If they remain committed to soccer, many of the girls will be eligible to play in Bahamas for the next few years which bodes well for future success! Soccer Sisters is open to all girls on Tortola from the ages of 5 to 18 and it’s great to see the girls really developing some terrific skills and gaining confidence on the pitch.”