INTRODUCTION TO SUNSET FOOTBALL CLUB
In many ways the history and growth of Sunset FC (“Sunset”) mirrors the history and growth of the Cayman Islands themselves over the past 40 years. The late 1970’s and 1980’s saw the financial service industry in Cayman start its long expansion, with knock on effects in the construction and retail industries. Tourism followed a separate, but upward course as well, with the natural consequence that the number of overseas workers increased significantly, many of them originating from the UK and Ireland.
Included in the growing expat population were a number of enthusiastic, although not necessarily gifted, football players. The best were often recruited by the local teams, but this left a lot of players whose only football outlet was an informal kick about on any plot of land large enough to accommodate a game. Within this group the idea of forming a club to provide more structured access to football began to develop and Sunset first competed in the league in the 1982/83 season. The name was taken from the club’s original sponsor, Sunset House and although sponsors have changed over the years, the name has not, being deeply rooted in the club’s history. The only requirement attached to our sponsorship was that we held our post match analysis sessions in their bar - hardly an imposition.
Being formed by a group of expats, it is no surprise that Sunset’s men’s team draws the majority of its players from the expat community, although this has now extended far beyond its original UK and Irish focus. It was recognised from the outset, however, that given the average age of a typical expat worker, attracting local players would be essential to provide those characteristics which tended otherwise to be lacking, principally youth and fitness. The competitiveness of the men’s team over the years has varied but one consistent characteristic of the best teams is that they reflect a good balance of expat and local players.
The 1983-4 season saw the introduction of the overseas end of season tour, the first being to Houston Texas. In subsequent years the men’s team has toured extensively in the USA, central and south American and other Caribbean islands. In addition to Houston, Sunset's silky football skills have graced pitches as far apart as Fort Lauderdale, Dallas, Denver, Washington DC, Rio de Janeiro, Caracas, Kingston and Cayman Brac.
The addition of a women's team in 2001 added a new dimension to the club’s structure and in the years since the club has added youth teams for both boys and girls at all age levels, as well as programs for younger children aged 4-11. The club is committed to the ongoing development of youth football, both to make participation in the sport available to all who are interested and also with the objective of producing the next generation of Sunset players for our senior teams.
Details of the club’s youth programs can be found elsewhere on this website.
It should be no surprise to learn that the funding requirements for the club have increased substantially as it has grown. Meeting the costs of training facilities at Camana Bay, kits, equipment and other costs associated with our various youth programs has required the club to adopt a multi-leveled approach to fundraising, involving annual player subscriptions, sponsorship from our main supporters KPMG, Cayman Physiotherapy, LUCA, Calderwood and Marbury Fund Services (Cayman) and fund raising activities, of which the two standouts are our six-a-side competition and our celebrity guest weekend. Over the years the club has attracted Peter Shilton, Jeff Hurst, Jack Charlton, Frank Bruno, Bryan Robson, Kenny Dalglish and most recently Kevin Keegan. Meeting these world famous sportsmen in various informal settings and having a chat over a beer or two is really something special.
Sunset remains an amateur club in the best sense of the word. It is run by individuals who love football, have a desire to keep involved in the sport and enjoy giving something back to the community. Any successful team is based on a strong core of players who can be relied upon to deliver when needed. So too, a successful club is based on a strong core of members prepared to roll up their sleeves and get things done. Our club has two such groups, our coaching staff and our executive committee. Comprising for the most part ex-players and parents, many have a long association with the club and it is through their efforts, often unappreciated, that Sunset continues to grow and flourish. Given that my job as President simply requires me to be the oldest person associated with the club,I would like to express my thanks to them for their tremendous efforts over the years in making Sunset one of the most respected clubs in Cayman.
Sunset provides both an outlet for playing the game and, as importantly, a point of social contact for those new to the island. In keeping with the development of football in Cayman,the club has progressed far beyond its early limited objectives and grown in size in a way that was never anticipated by the club’s founding members. But its commitment to football for fun has never wavered - why else would we do it?
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