(Continued from Amandala of Sunday, December 25, 2016)
(some excerpts from last week)
BELIZE CITY, Mon. Dec. 19, 2016–A couple months ago, we heard reports of an Over-40 football player who had suffered a stroke, and was thus wheel-chair bound….
Yesterday, on KREM Radio’s Press Cadogan Show, we received a phone call from the said “Maradona,” who explained his plight a bit differently from we had understood it. “Maradona” said he had suffered an injury while playing football, and it caused a pinched nerve that left him paralyzed from the waist down…. He gave us his phone number, and we promised to do whatever we could to help, and the first step was to spread the word.
….When Maradona answered the phone, and I had identified myself, he immediately called me by my football nickname, Chilor; and when I told him I was not sure of his identity, he assured me that I was quite familiar with him, from way back. “Da me, Corto, man!” And immediately I knew who it was. Of course, I know “Corto” from way back; from back in Belmopan in the mid-seventies, actually. But I never knew when he later picked up the nickname of “Maradona” after he moved to Belize City.
…. He said he lives alone in the house; he can maneuver into his bed and back into the wheel chair, because they are almost the same level. And he moves around the house, prepares his own food, and cooks on the stove, all from his wheel chair. But loneliness and frustration are getting to him, especially because he says he believes he can get better if the operation to relieve the pinched nerve in his back is done.
(continuation of story)
One does not get the nickname “Maradona” without any merit. In Belize City football circles, Michael Sutherland had earned a measure of respect, though he was never considered a big star. He recalled that he once represented Belize City in the national competition in the early 1980s as a member of the Fort George United team, which had placed second in the City competition. But Maradona earned his nickname for the pure enthusiasm and adventurous excitement he brought to the game. He thoroughly enjoyed playing football, and especially making a play that would merit reminding his opponent, or “rubbing it in.”
Regardless of the situation, footballers getting together, the talk always comes to football. And Maradona couldn’t resist detailing the brilliance of the play he had just executed in a Monday night Over 40 game at Yabra field a couple months ago, when he suffered the injury that led to his present situation. He said he had jumped high in the air to receive a long, high centering pass; but when he realized that he was at a bad angle to try and head the ball towards the goal, he turned in mid-flight and instead headed the ball back out to an oncoming teammate to take a shot at goal. It was a great play, but someone undercut Maradona in mid-air, and he fell flat on his back; and he may have hit his spine on a hard piece of ground or a rock, as the Yabra field is uneven and not covered with thick grass. Whatever the cause, Maradona felt the pain after the fall. And it got worse steadily. He said, being self-employed doing yard cutting at the time, he continued for a couple weeks as the pain got worse daily. He spent over a hundred dollars on X-rays at KHMH, but the pain became unbearable; until one morning, he felt like electric shock tremors going down both legs, and his legs then just “locked up.” “I thought it was then going up to the rest of my body; I figured I was going to die,” remarked a tearful Maradona, as he recalled that fateful day when he became paralyzed from the waist down.
It is not like family members have not been supportive. Maradona said his sister regularly checks up on him; and his daughter recently paid him a short visit from the States. But they all have their own lives to live, and responsibilities with their own homes. Alone in his house, he gets lonely, and frustrated with his situation. He believes, especially after a consultation with Dr. Smith of Medical Associates, that he can recover the use of his legs, so he can be independent again, and not have to beg help to go anywhere he would want to go, and to earn his living.
Our community should be able to help Maradona get the necessary operation; and time may be a factor, because there may be permanent damage if he is left too long without remedy. It is worth the effort, for Maradona’s sake. We never know what can befall any one of us at any time. Maradona needs us now. He can be reached at 663-5333.
A blessed Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!