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Academy Sports Club from Cayman Islands arrived at USA CUP in style

07/17/2017, 3:30pm CDT
By Patrick Malin, Media Intern

Over 1,000 teams will make their way to the National Sports Center (NSC) in Blaine, MN over the course of the Schwan’s USA CUP’s eight-day duration. Few teams, however, will be arriving with comparable style and flair to the players from Academy Sports Club from the Cayman Islands.


Academy Sports Club from the Cayman Islands arrived at USA CUP in style at on Monday in a colorful Cayman Airways chartered plane, carrying 156 players, coaches, and parents.

Academy Sports Club chartered a Cayman Airways plane for 156 players, parents, and coaches to travel to USA CUP on Monday, landing at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport early on check-in day. Famous for having some of the most colorful planes on the planet, Academy Sports Club’s arrival to USA CUP surely turned heads on the tarmac.

Cayman Airways planes are unique in their bright designs, and garner attention whenever they touch down on the runway. On the side of every Cayman Airways plane is a large painting of a turtle. Named “Sir Turtle,” this mascot serves as the unofficial national logo for the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Airways modification of Sir Turtle includes a prominent red flying scarf. The tail of the plane features the country’s national coat of arms, which contains a lion representing Great Britain (of which the Cayman Islands are a territory), three stars to represent the country’s three islands, and the country’s motto, “He hath founded it upon the seas.”

Academy Sports Club is a non-profit soccer club focused on providing excellent soccer development while stressing the importance of academic success. The club is a purely voluntary organization, relying on the charitable efforts of community members to send teams to tournaments like USA CUP.

“It takes a huge effort to send so many players to an international tournament and we wish to thank everyone in the local community that helped by buying raffle tickets, donating and helping these kids,” Byles said.

Paul Byles, Academy’s U13/U15 boys head coach, reiterated his thanks to Cayman Airways for helping organize the charter plane for his coaches, players and their family members.

“It takes a lot of work by many individuals to make the program successful not just as a football club but as a community program for our youth where they learn to appreciate our values on education, discipline and learn many off the field life skills,” said Virgil Seymour, Academy Sports Club founder and coach.

Academy Sports Club chartered a plane for its teams due to its historically high participation in the year’s USA CUP. Six teams from Academy, the most the club has ever sent, will compete at the National Sports Center this week.

“Every year we see how we can involve more and more of the club in trips and tournaments like USA Cup,” said Byles. “This year we are extremely excited to be able to bring more players than ever before.”

Notably, this will be the first year that Academy Sports Club will be bringing a girls team, and they look to make a strong first impression in the U12 division.

“We are particularly excited to include our girls’ team as part of our efforts to further develop Academy’s girls training program,” said Byles.  

Academy has made visiting the NSC an annual tradition, attending USA CUP on six previous occasions. Academy’s teams have frequently impressed on the pitch, having won championships in four different age levels over the club’s six appearances.

Byles’ U13 boys’ team looks primed to be the next Academy champion in the club’s legacy of success at USA CUP. The Academy U13 boys are entering Tuesday’s tournament kick-off with confidence and momentum after completing an undefeated regular season and winning the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) FA Cup in June.

“As a club we always look forward to attending the Schwan’s USA Cup,” said Seymour. “We can always count on competing against a very high caliber of players, allowing the Academy footballers to challenge themselves and improve on their skills.”

Tag(s): July 17, 2017