Our National “A” Team left yesterday for a date with football destiny in Costa Rica. Their vibes are up-beat and positive; there are no visible undercurrents, as in years past when we received reports of some disgruntled players due to unequal and even neglectful treatment by the past “heads” of the FFB administration. Both new Head Coach Le Roy Sherrier Lewis and FFB President Ruperto Vicente share a genuine love of the game and respect for players’ feelings, both having served with distinction in their past football playing careers. Our boys will give their all, as they always do. And Belizean fans are hopeful and excited about the games, which reportedly will be shown live in the coming days on GOL T.V.
From this sports desk, we share the hopes and dreams of all Belizeans where our National Team is concerned. We saw them off yesterday at the Philip Goldson International Airport, and they know we are behind them all the way.
There is only one mindset that one can have when going into battle if one truly hopes to be victorious. Our young men are going on the field to win, and we would have it no other way. Miracles can and do happen in sports; and sometimes the odds makers are proven wrong.
Can Belize do it? Of course, we can; but it will be such an achievement as few casual observers can fully comprehend the enormity of. It would be cause for nothing short of a national celebration that would result from such an accomplishment; and those young men would be national heroes, so huge would be their achievement.
There will be no heads bowed when our National Team players return home next week. We are proud of them now; and we will be proud of their efforts when they return, and we need for them to know that, regardless of the outcome. They will give all they’ve got to bring back the victory and a place in the Gold Cup; and that is all we can ask of them.
When Belize football finally threw off the yoke of over a decade of oppressive dictatorship on March 15 of 2012, we all knew that time was short for us to prepare our national team for the UNCAF Copa Centroamericana, less than a year away in January of 2013. Getting our national team together and prepared was a matter of urgency. But reality soon checked in, as the newly elected FFB President revealed that his Executive had inherited empty coffers at the FFB. Worse than that, more than one-half of the annual monies for 2012 under the FIFA Financial Assistance Program (FAP) had been disbursed in advance and “disappeared” by the out-going administration, with nothing to show for it. So that, instead of US $250,000.00 to work with for 2012, the new FFB had only US $107,000.00 left to meet all its plans and obligations last year, the National Team being immediately affected negatively. If anyone wonders why it took the FFB until the first week of October, 2012, to appoint a National Coach and begin the work of putting together our National “A” Team, financial constraints will be big on the excuse list of this FFB administration. (Thanks to BTL and Belize Bank, who have recently been announced as major sponsors of the National Team.)
One bright side to Belize football in this difficult situation is that the owners/sponsors of the Premier League have once again invested their resources in maintaining a number of teams that treated fans to one of the most competitive semi-pro football tournaments ever in 2012. The intensity of that competition and the timing of its completion was convenient for the FFB National Team program, as the momentum was carried over into the formation and preparation of the National Team. There is nothing like real combat to keep players sharp going into a top- level competition; and our players are battle ready in that aspect, even if they are limited by only a few games together as the National Team.
But it is nevertheless a lot that we are hoping for from our National Team when we consider the advantages shared by their various opponents.
It is a given that Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua are all well prepared, and will have been sending scouts to try and figure out what Belize has to offer in this tourney. Not that they have previously held our football in such high esteem; rather, they might be just making sure there are no surprises. But surprises might still be on the way. It is impossible for them to know what this Belize team is capable of, because ourselves are still finding that out, having played only 3 games so far. Is it our time yet? Will Belize “shake up the world” in Group A at Copa Centroamericana? In football, as in life, nothing is impossible.
I have had a recurring dream, sometimes months, sometimes years apart, for over thirty years following the murder of my brother in Ghana, West Africa, back in 1976. And every time, in my dream I am marveling and celebrating the absolutely wonderful and astounding discovery that my brother did not die, after all. It was all a mistake. Sometimes the dream is so vivid and real, I would declare, this must be a dream; and he would reassure me, no, it’s real, it was all a mistake, everything is cool. Overcome with joy, I would even share my past lamentations with him, and he would insist that he is fine, everything is okay, it was all a big mistake. In my dream, I would even pinch myself and say, no, this has to be a dream. And again he would tell me, relax bro, everything is alright. And I would say, shucks, mein, and all this time we were suffering under that mistaken belief… But just when the dream was becoming so real that it would make me physically twist and turn in jubilation; bam! I would wake up; and reality set it, again. Just another dream.
Belize 1, Costa Rica 1. Belize 2, Guatemala 1. Belize 1, Nicaragua 0. That sounds, oh, so good! Cungo, Belize!!