The Cayman Islands Government and the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) have once again partnered up. The partnership was made official Wednesday (2 December) afternoon, where both parties signed a purchase agreement that requires government to grant a sum of $150,000 to CIFA’s annual budget, effective immediately.
“Today is a very important day for football in the Cayman Islands,” said CIFA president Alfredo Whittaker. “The most important thing to me is the trust. The trust from the Cayman Islands Government towards this institution; it’s a way of saying we are here for you, we are here to support you, we are here to help you make things better and for me that’s overwhelming.”
Government initially withdrew it’s annual funding of approximately $130,000 from CIFA in 2016 after former CIFA President Jeffrey Webb was charged and arrested with offences including money laundering and false accounting in 2015.
“My focus was to recover CIFA, not only as an entity but the stakeholders because the priority was our clubs and today that dark cloud is now gone,” said Whittaker.
While the association replaced disgraced Webb for former national captain Lee Ramoon; Sports Minister at the time Osbourne Bodden was still not confident in the association. However, since becoming president, Whittaker said, his main goal was to prove he and his team could produce positive and legal outcomes for local football.
“From the beginning of my election we’ve had a number of meetings with the government,” said Whittaker. “The restoration of the funding from government to CIFA is based on what we have done as an association. Our projects that are well highlighted and the new CIFA as a body, the change of how business should be done is the reason behind government’s decision to restore the funding to the Cayman Islands Football Association.”
Both Whittaker and the current Minister of Sports Juliana O’Connor-Connolly signed the purchase agreement on Wednesday. O’Connor-Connolly told Cay 03 Sports, the signing stems from the consistency the associations has shown over the past 3 years.
“Not only do I think this is a historic day, there is a tremendous amount of significance to it,” said O’Connor-Connolly. “We’re going through this covid and quite successfully, thank the Lord. The timing is just perfect because football is up in leaps and bounds under the careful leadership of Alfredo Whittaker and his executive team.”
“I’ve always viewed government as filling the gaps that the private sector couldn’t fill,” O’Connor-Connolly added. “My grandmother always said it takes two hands to clap, so with the signing of this agreement together the two hands have now come together in support of football.”
While CIFA will receive the full grant for 2020 due to the year coming to a close; they will receive portions of the funds every three months in 2021. Whittaker says the budget provided by government will contribute to major upcoming plans.
“The Cayman Islands Football Association budget for the next three years is a big budget,” said Whittaker. “We are looking forward in completing phase 2 of CIFA; that is the construction of the other field, the construction of a building that will enhance that field. So we’re looking at around $4.5 million that we have to worry about investing in 2021.”
For more details, visit Cay 03 Sports Facebook page to view the full press conference of the purchase agreement signing.