Cayman's Sizzling Sebastian
Not even five feet tall and barely in high school 13-year-old Sebastian Martinez is blazing a trail for Cayman youth as he takes up an 18-month contract with Swindon Town Football Club in Swindon, UK.
Wasting no time making his mark, Sebastian, playing for the U13 development team, has already scored his first goal for the club in a game against Bournesmouth.
"Sebastian is living his dream. It is an opportunity of a lifetime and I think it is brilliant that he has the chance to do this," said dad Barry Martinez.
With outstanding technique, speed and a remarkable feel for the game, Sebastian stood out from early on as he played for local Academy Sports Club's U13 side. Before his departure, he was also named this year's Most Valuable Player in the U13 league as well as the League Cup.
Acknowledging his son's exceptional talent, Mr. Martinez was also quick to point out that the road to Swindon was paved with the help of many ardent supporters: "Sebastian's coaches at Academy Sports Club, Mr. Winston Chung and Mr. Virgil Seymour, were always looking and pushing for opportunities for him.
"He also had tremendous support from the Office of the Premier, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Sports and Footballs' Technical Director, Carl Brown, who introduced him to former Swindon player and talent scout Fitzroy Simpson, who visited the Cayman Islands earlier this year," explained Mr. Martinez.
What started as a two-week trial this July, turned into six weeks with Sebastian playing football at Liverpool, Birmingham City, Aston Villa, and Cardiff to name a few. Impressing his adopted club, he was subsequently offered the year-and-a-half contract.
Preparing for his first really cold winter, Sebastian stays in touch with friends and family via phone calls and BBM.
Surprisingly, Sebastian's life is not all about football. With parents who continually reinforce the importance of a good education as well as the need for humility, Sebastian is a shy, soft-spoken straight A student who also happens to play the cello.
But, even as his heart swells with pride, the story is not all about Sebastian, said Mr. Martinez.
"I hope this opens doors for the many other talented players we have in the Cayman Islands. We seriously need to pay attention to developing our young athletes. The fact that Sebastian is playing for a major club overseas show others what is possible," he said.
Minister of Sports, the Hon. Mark Scotland, who took the lead in making Sebastian's trip possible said his ministry will continue to work with the Cayman Islands Football Association to create opportunities for local players.
"Sports development is high on our agenda. Not only does this give talented youngsters opportunities to broaden their horizons, but it also gives our young people positive ideals to aspire to," the Minister said. "I would like to commend Sebastian's parents for their tireless efforts in creating this opportunity for him".
"With the connection now made, the Ministry and CIFA are looking forward to a long-standing relationship with Swindon," Minister Scotland added.
Something Sebastian is sure to smile about as he packs his bags next February to travel to the Cayman Islands with his new team.(GIS)
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