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When Bom was king

Chronicling the struggles of a once great ‘baller

BELIZE CITY, Saturday, April 8, 2017– The “Goose” or “Needlecase,” because of his “flying” ability in goal, Wayne “Bom” Jones says he is (and looks it) 5 feet 7 inches tall, much taller than the late “Frogman,” Ruperto Alvarez, an outstanding goalie of the 70s and early 80s.  Born on November 18, 1963, Bom rose to football fame in the early 80s; but after a decade plus years of stardom on a number of champion teams, Bom became a victim of the times and his unpreparedness to withstand the sweeping advance of crack cocaine and HIV Aids in Belize.

Already living in the depths of poverty, Bom was among the Majestic Alley fire victims earlier this year, that further reduced his condition.

Tonight, Bom said he doesn’t think he has much longer to go.  His knees are weak when getting up.  “Sometimes, I can’t feel my feet on the ground.”

While on one of his many short stays in the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, Bom said he got some encouraging words from an old, ailing friend, “Mr. Pou,” who had suffered a stroke.   He said, “Mr. Pou put his hand on my head and prayed.  He told me not to give up.”

Bom said it makes him feel down and wanting to give up, when people snub him and make him feel unwelcome around them.  But Mr. Pou’s words keep him fighting.

He said that from the 90s he has been battling AIDS.  Many others he knew have died; and he is still fighting.  He thinks he has lasted much longer than if he had given up.  Sometimes, he goes to be alone at the Barracks, taking the cool breeze under a “hammans” (almonds) tree.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Sometimes we’re up; and sometimes we’re down.  For some time now, the former football star, Wayne “Bom” Jones, has been down; and if you speak to him, he feels his time is almost up.  He says he feels his spirit getting weak, but there is a warrior in there still, and a real sportsman at heart, that can still find fun and excitement in discussing the game, and assessing the play of today’s young stars.

The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital has done a lot of good work over the years, and Bom has been a regular visitor with bouts of asthma and other virus-related complications.  And in fairness to the doctors and nurses and attendants, they have treated him well; so much so that he would like to stay longer in the ward; but the hospital has other more urgent patients to deal with.  And as they explained to myself, Lilly White (Edward Charles Rubio) and William “Billy Geech” Myvette, who accompanied Bom on his visit to KHMH on Saturday, after only being discharged a day before on Friday, the hospital, as now constituted, is an “emergency” hospital.  After nursing a patient back to a manageable state of health, their job is done, and they must focus on more urgent cases that keep coming up.  Karl Heusner is, they repeat, a primary care hospital, so patients must look to relatives when they are discharged to provide secondary and tertiary care.

If you are no longer strong enough to work to earn a living; and have no living relative with a place for you to stay; then you are down indeed, and it’s not a good feeling.  It can lead to depression.  For sure, you made mistakes along the way.  But all that matters now, is that you need help at this juncture in the journey of life.  That’s what friends are for.

When Bom was king

But, there was a time when Bom was king; and many fans of yesteryear remember those days, when the “Goose” gave them thrills and exceeding joy with his outstanding performances on the MCC and elsewhere in the Jewel in top level football competition.

There were other very good goalkeepers in Belize during the time when young Wayne “Bom” Jones burst upon the scene, after being “discovered” and recruited from his 3rd division team, Pickstock Rollers, and taken straight to 1st Division by Milpros then captain/scout, Egbert “Chana” Kisling.

Having quit primary school at Standard Two to help his grandmother, who raised him along with younger brother Benjamin “Don’t” Mejia, after his parents had migrated, national stardom came perhaps too quickly to the still growing little “Mongoose,” who used his sawmill-sawdust developed acrobatics to evade much bigger strikers with uncanny skill in scooping up the ball in one hand and using the other to summersault out of harm’s way.

If Bom hadn’t chosen, or wasn’t selected, to mind goal, he would likely have been a good striker.  His attacking instincts were such that he became the sparkplug of the Milpros attack, as his reading of the field and his choices and timing of out-letting the ball often made a big impact on the success of his team’s quest for scoring goals.

Not many players can claim to be at any one time the unquestioned Number One in their position in the sport; and it is a feeling that Bom has experienced, and no doubt enjoyed.  When reigning national champions Verdes was humiliated in the 1986 National Marathon, 5-nil, with Bom in the Coke Milpros goal, there was cause for attention.  And when at season’s end and the repeat 1985-86 national champions were to host 2nd place Coke Milpros in an exhibition trophy-day game on their home field at Norman Broaster, Bom and Milpros held a 2-nil lead in front of the Cayo fans at half-time, when the skies opened up, and a deluge came down to blanket the field.  An asthmatic, Bom requested to retire from the meaningless game in the chilly rain, and the Benedict Lopez led Verdes rebounded with 3 goals on Bom’s replacement (Eddie Daniels)  to save face with a 3-2 win in front of their home fans.  But the Verdes management and sponsor had seen enough; they had to get Bom.  Still officially in the days of amateur football in Belize, Wayne “Bom” Jones was effectively crowned king of the goal in Belize football, when he was taken away from Coke Milpros, not against his own will, of course, to mind goal for the reigning national champions Verdes in the next football season 1986-87.
Helping hands along the way

Bom will likely be back someday to seek the services of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, services we all may need at one time or the other.  And we pray that the hard working staff, nurses and doctors, can continue to perform their daily tasks with kindness and professionalism even in the face of very challenging circumstances.  If anything, they should take it as a compliment, that Belize’s one-time undisputed king of goalkeeping was not so happy to leave the caring comfort afforded him during his stay at the KHMH.

A big Thank You to the staff of KHMH!  We understand.  Our country does need more facilities in the area of secondary and tertiary care; and this is something our policy makers need to look at seriously.  Our country has more poor people now than ever before.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Bom was in good spirits this morning when he returned from a visit to a Majestic Alley friend.

Since Wednesday, September 27, Bom has been assisted with lodging by the Human Services Department, being hosted downstairs of the McCaulay family home in Lake I; and his condition has improved, comfortably passing his 54th birthday milestone on November 18, and then celebrating another Christmas.  He is now looking forward to the New Year.  Belize has lost so many of our sons and daughters in 2017; so many tears.  And when we reflect that there is one and only one of each of us on this earth, we realize what a treasure this life is, and what a loss we all endure when another one of us passes.  To life in 2018!  Give thanks, and Bless up, the Bom!  And you, yes, you too; you are appreciated!  Happy New Year, all!

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