Belizean 1960s, 70s and 80s basketball has seen many a big man come through the middle on a Belizean basketball court; but through the lens of many Belizean sports enthusiasts, the Belizean basketball center of the great 1970s basketball team, Belikin, Charles Goff had made a serious impact on Belize’s basketball landscape. Depending on which way you want to look at it, Goff was one of Belize’s most domineering big men, under considerable pressure and opposition from others like J.J. Lynch and Emil Grinage of the legendary Belize basketball team, Happy Homebuilders.
In our Belizean Legends interview with Goff last year, he remembered how it was when he was a novice under the shadows of the towering Wilton “Cama” Cumberbatch, who at that time stood more than six feet tall and taught him many basics in terms of how to dominate in the center. Goff reflected that he had to wait his turn as a junior member, of Cama’s team.
“I really was getting tired of just sitting on the bench,” said Goff. “But as soon as I got my chance to play, I worked hard on becoming better at the game every chance I got.”
Belizean basketball was built by many great and legendary athletes of the times, like Evondale Coburn and Harry Cadle of early 1970s Belizean basketball at St. Ignatius School, and later others like Clinton “Pulu” Lightburn, who had risen as some of the new stars like Goff among a cadre of senior players that would not take any mess from the “Johnny-come-latelies” of the time. Junior players were put in their place when Goff emerged on the basketball scene, and according to Goff, there was no room for mediocrity.
In profiling Charles Goff in this profile some few weeks before airing his exclusive interview on Belizean Legends, yours truly can only stop and think what it would have been like if Belizean basketball players had gotten the basic support from the society and family. Goff explained that he and many of his colleagues who played the game were more sheltered than the youths of today.
“Belizean basketball players today lack the kind of support from family and society that we got playing ball in those days,” says Goff. “We were sheltered in the 1970s, and we had better family structures than these Belizean youths playing ball today.”
Goff remembers how he felt being fortunate to play abroad on a Belizean national team against some of the best in the Caribbean and Central America. He added that the Belizean players appeared small amongst some of the other players from rival Central American teams. He remembered how those teams had been recruiting their diaspora talents long before Belize was even thinking about looking abroad at that time. It was not until the 1990s when the likes of Belizean-American basketball players like Milt Palacio, Alex Carcamo and others were recruited from Los Angeles and other major cities in the United States.
Goff felt that such a move in recruitment began working in Belize’s favor somewhat too late, and explains why Belize never won any medals in basketball at the Central American & Caribbean Games in the 1970s when he played. He is a big supporter of Belizean sports recruiting Belizean-American talent from the U.S. and other parts of the Belizean diaspora.
Belizean Legends celebrates the 1970s era of Belizean basketball greatness through this exclusive interview with Charles Goff, one of Belize’s most dominant basketball centers that ever played the game.