Features — 02 September 2017 — by Wellington C. Ramos
B.A.C.F.A. Inc. to launch “Belizean American Football Hall  of Fame” in New York on September 10

Belizeans in New York City are ready for the first Belizean American Football Hall of Fame launching on September 10, 2017.

Many of our former football players who played football in our country of Belize and the United States, have been dreaming about a Football Hall of Fame for decades, so that they could be acknowledged and honored; but it never happened. I have been reliably informed that some football players began organizing this needed club several times; but, due to lack of support from the Government and the Belize football league, they got discouraged and abandoned their efforts.

In 2013, the late Maurice “Gene” Guild, some former football players and myself decided to give it another try. In 2013, we founded the Belizean American Caribbean Football Association Inc. to deal with all aspects of football. This includes: children developmental football program (Indoor and Outdoor), teenage and adult league competitions, and a permanent Belizean American Football Hall of Fame Club. While we were preparing for our first regular football Marathon for the Labor Day in September, a Belizean football legend, namely, Louis “Mugga” Garbutt died. We then decided to honor him during the Marathon that the late “Wallydee” Mitchell was organizing at the Linden Park annually. We also were able to collect enough money to donate a set of team trophies to the 1st place winner of the Marathon, a team from Chicago.

Unfortunately, Gene Guild and Wallydee Mitchell both died the following year, and it affected our regular football Labor Day Marathon. Then, recently, another football legend, Rupert “Canalete” Anderson died. His death convinced me that football players have died, are dying and will continue to die without getting any recognition or honor before they die. I immediately began looking for former football players and dedicated fans to assist me. I reached out to Martin “Punsen” Petillo, Orin Orio, Kenrick Jones, Russel “Cheesie” Hulse, Earl “Mandingo” Barnett, Charles Hogan, Gregory “Gregsie” Jones, Leslie Guild, and a person who founded the Belize Football Hall of Fame Facebook page, Omar Ayuso. This young man has been passionate about doing something for us and I have a lot of love and respect for him.

After months of collaborating with each other, we agreed that we must form this entity as a part of the Belizean American football league, known as the Belizean American Football Hall of Fame, to induct all of the deserving football players and those who have contributed significantly to our beloved sport. Letters for support and contributions were sent to the Belize Ministry of Sports, the Belize Football League, other entities, and some former well known football sponsors in the past, indicating our intentions. We are hoping for them to respond, but we started donating towards the planned event. The former football players are so passionate about this long overdue entity, that they are willing to do anything to see it happen to honor their comrades.

We have done all the logistics and preparation for the launching of the Belizean American Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony on September 10, 2017 at Gershwin Park at Linden Boulevard in Brooklyn, NY from-2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. We expect football players from all over the United States to be at this event. For those who cannot attend, they can ask their relatives and friends to come and be there for them. We have compiled a list of former football players and individuals who have contributed significantly to football over the years for names to be added to it. If you know of any individual or individuals who you think are deserving of this great honor, feel free to add their names on the list.

If they are not honored in September, they will be under consideration when the Hall of Fame Committee votes again to honor more players and individuals in March of 2018.

My fellow Belizean brothers and sisters, I am appealing to you all, to please support this needed effort, because this could have a major impact on improving the quality of football that is being played in our beloved country of Belize. Players and football contributors who are inducted, shall become lifetime members of this club with some benefits to be decided on after our first event. Our football family have been ignored and neglected for too long, and now is the time to give us what we duly deserve.
For more information call: (718) 223-3193, (347) 599-4035 (760) 408-9438
Email: [email protected]

(Amandala Sports Ed. Note: A noble objective; but a difficult task. Any “Hall of Fame” will have critics and naysayers, justified or unfair; who should be in, and who should not.

A Ministry of Sports sanctioned “Belize Sports Hall of Fame,” including six different sporting disciplines (football, basketball, softball, track & field, cricket and boxing), was launched in 1992, to cover Belize sporting legends up to the year 1960; and an awards ceremony for about 40 inductees was held at the Bliss. A second effort by that committee (chaired by C.B. Hyde), that would have covered the period 1960–1980, was aborted before launching around 1996-97, after the new Sports Minister withheld necessary funding for the awards ceremony.

The late Belizean American entrepreneur Wally-Dee Mitchell, mentioned in the article above by Mr. Ramos, held an annual “Honorary Award Dance” in Brooklyn, New York, where he presented awards to a number of past Belizean football stars residing in the U.S.

The Football Federation of Belize (FFB), the national governing body of football in Belize, installed its own FFB Hall of Fame and Awards Committee in 2013, to focus on football only. Some meetings were held, under the chairmanship of FFB President Emeritus, Delhart Courtney; but in January, 2014, meetings were suspended by the FFB, before the selection process was completed or any induction ceremony held.
In honoring our past football stars, any effort by motivated individuals or groups is to be applauded. But there is still an urgent need for an authoritative and officially sanctioned “Belize Football Hall of Fame” to be launched; and only the FFB can do that.

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