A trio of teams representing the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association (CIFFA) hit the Austin-Tindall Park in Kissimmee, Florida 18-20 January for the Flag Football World Championship Tour (FFWCT) 2019 Battle Orlando National Championships.
Women: Cayman Islands (2-2)
The Cayman Islands women’s squad impressed on the international stage as the only team to advance to the playoff rounds. The women opened tournament with a 21-0 win over ‘Bama’s Finest’. In the second game, they’d lose to eventual tournament winner Chicago ‘Force’ in a 12-7 defeat. Cayman would rebound, however, to advance with a convincing 25-0 win over Huntsville, Alabama.
“I think that we play very well whenever we go away,” said Erica Bosch. “Most of the teams that we are up against have been together for years, where as our national team is made up of all the various women’s team in the league.”
In the quarterfinals, Cayman would fall to the Virginia Vixens 7-2. Quarterback Lisa Malice said the team’s performance was encouraging.
“The results of this tournament came down to us needing to train harder and build chemistry as a unit, as well as being more mentally prepared for every game to be a challenge,” said Malice. “It was a very competitive tournament and it left us hungry to improve and show resilience as Team Cayman.”
After winning the 2015 United States Flag and Touch League (USFTL) B-Division Championships, Malice says Cayman’s women’s teams are no longer flying under the radar.
“In the past, we’ve been able to sneak up on teams and win when they didn’t know who we were,” said Malice. “Now, we’ve have gained the respect of teams, so they prepare better for us.”
Men: Cayman Islands (1-2)
Quarterback Jordan Stubblefield found Dave ‘Baggy’ Taylor down the sideline for a touchdown as the men’s squad opened the tournament with a 13-12 win over Bahamas.
“They beat us two years ago,” said Stubblefield. “That it was a solid start to the tournament, and we held strong at the end.”
The men’s team would lose out, however, dropping two consecutive round robin games to miss the playoffs. In game two, Cayman was edged 13-6 by the Birmingham Heat. In the finale, Cayman was starched 35-0 by the New York ‘Nomads’. Stubblefield said they were outmatched.
“They were way more physical, and injuries hampered the out come,” he said. “It did however allow for younger players to get much needed playing time.”
Coach Ernesto Ebanks said he was pleased with the team’s performance, albeit, under an unfamiliar format.
“I’m very happy with the team’s performance and the discipline they showed,” he said. “It’s never easy going up and playing in these kinds of tournaments, given the difference in rules and style of play.”
The FFWCT tournaments consist of four major rule differences from CIFFA, allowing rushing on punts, blocks on kickoffs as well as stiff-arms and downfield blocking on offense.
Co-Ed: Cayman Islands (1-4)
In their first appearance in the co-ed five-one-five format, Cayman would play to a 1-3 record. With losses to Voodoo (29-8) and ‘BGB’ (22-17), while splitting one game each with ‘The Show’, quarterback Lisa Malice says it was a learning experience.
“It took some time for us to get our bearings as the rules were very different from the co-ed rules we have locally,” said Malice. “The games were really high scoring and fast. Our team played really well together and had a lot of fun.”