Sports — 19 July 2013 — by - press release -

GOB must get serious about Sports/Youth Development

The Nation Builders national youth movement commends the Belize Jaguars National Football Team for their participation in the 2013 Gold Cup. The journey, although short-lived, proved that despite the struggles and tremendous challenges facing our country, we are a resilient people and have the capacity to compete with sports giants on the world stage. We commend every member of the national team – from player to staffer – for their efforts to uplift our country.

We consider the Belize Jaguars Team, which was one of only five national teams that advanced from the UNCAF tournament in March, as heroes, and recommend that each member be properly recognized and respected, principally by the Government of Belize.

We also call on the Government to get serious about sports development as a key area of youth development. The current policy on sports development is an oppressive, lazy and poorly thought-out strategy that needs immediate revision. We recommend meaningful investment in Sports, including adequate neighborhood parks and proper sporting facilities, assisting with the creation of community sports clubs, sponsorship of community sports events, the implementation of strategic sports programmes in primary school and high school that encourage academic and sports development instead of the current isolated tournaments that have low-impact, and the adequate sponsorship of our national sports teams.

For months, in fact for several years, two of the central sporting facilities – the Belize Civic Center and the Marion Jones Sports Complex – have been reduced to rubble and white elephant projects, and have been reflections of the low priority which sports development is in our country. How many opportunities will be missed before these important facilities are completed?

Instead of spending our monies on concerts featuring foreign artists, we call on the government-owned company, Belize Telemedia Limited, to aid the Football Federation of Belize and Ministry of Sports with the sponsorship of a national community sports development programme. We also appeal to the Government to modify its intake of the oil revenues to be able to make proper investments in sports as one key area in the overall youth development plan. If this is insufficient, then other areas of revenue generation that will not fall on the backs of our struggling people must be considered. One such area is to offer incentives such as tax breaks to businesses who support sports programmes financially.

We have had enough of the excuses. If the Ministers of Youth and Sports find their responsibilities difficult or burdensome, then they must step aside and allow those with the interest and will to step up.

While we celebrate the milestone that was Belize’s participation in the 2013 Gold Cup, we also recognize the hard lessons that came out of it. Our National Team was poorly supported by a country with wealth untold. Our leaders failed our National Team as they have failed sports ambassadors before. But this cannot repeat itself. We call on all young nation builders to prepare to stand against it.

(Ed. Note: A powerful statement; and at this sports desk, we say: Right on, youths!)

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