BELIZE CITY—Arguably Belize’s best goalkeeper of the 1970’s, Orin “Coco” Orio, father of Belize international goalkeeper Shane Orio, this morning made his personal presentation of a beautiful plaque to Kremandala Chairman, Evan X Hyde, inside the X’s office on Partridge Street. The private presentation was witnessed by yours truly, and Coco held nothing back in declaring his admiration and appreciation of the superlative contribution the X has given to sports, especially football, in his writing and announcing.
Orin said that, as a youth he was already very impressed by reading the Amandala, hearing the X speak at UBAD meetings in Dangriga, and especially listening to his announcing of football games in the early and mid-1970’s on Radio Belize. “It was very special to us,” recalled Orio. “It was more than just football; it was an event, an experience, and we all looked forward to games when the X would be announcing.” But he was even more captivated when he really got to know the man, and became his lifelong friend, when they travelled to Mexico as part of the Belize football selection that went undefeated in 1978. (See the X’s “Sin, sports and subversion.”)
Coco said at first he was in awe of the persona he had only seen and heard from a distance, but he came to find that the X was very “real” and “down to earth” when they became good friends, as he, the X and “Buck” Palacio spent much time hanging together during the trip. Coco was the starting goalkeeper on the team; Buck played defence; and the X was at the time the Vice-President of the Belize City Football Association. (There was no BNFA in those days; and “out district” teams often participated in the Belize City competition, where the MCC was the Mecca of Belize football.)
Lamenting the fact that there seems to be no recording available of the games the X announced during the 1970’s, Coco tried to persuade him to do just one more football game announcing, so that it could be recorded and preserved. The X expressed his appreciation for the “Big Up” but suggested that the old Radio Belize tapes might still be in existence somewhere, perhaps in the R.B. archives inherited by Love FM.
The inscriptions on the plaque read: “Presented to Mr. Evan X Hyde… In grateful recognition for your… dedicated service as… Sport Announcer (Aficionado)… of the decade… Presented in the month of… August 2014”
In presenting the plaque to the X, Orin said that he was not waiting for any big organization or individuals to sing his praises when the man is dead and gone. He said it gave him great pleasure to praise the X now, to his face, to let him know how much he is appreciated and in what high esteem he is held by himself and others who have been blessed to enjoy his announcing of football games.
“Your son (Mose) is very good; but no one can compare. Just one more game,” pleaded Orin.
Orin “Coco” Orio is himself one special individual, an All-Belize goalkeeper in his day, then mentoring and guiding his All-Belize and international goalkeeper son, Shane Orio, while making annual visits home to the Jewel, where he never fails to give his support and encouragement to those involved in the sport he loves, football. For the past two years, Orin has donated the championship trophy to the Mayor’s Cup football tournament in his hometown, Dangriga. And the initiative he is pushing right now is to get some football “heads” of the community together to discuss and draft some concrete plans to move our football forward. He feels that the youth have to be the main focus, as in his time the primary school competition was the bedrock upon which all the great football stars were developed. “Parental and adult involvement in supporting the primary school competition is vital; this carries on to high school, and then the youths are ready to move into the top level of football. We’ve got to get it back,” he insisted; “and it is no use waiting for the official administrators to make the first move. We – parents, fans, interested past footballers – have to start taking action ourselves. And trust is important, because donors will not contribute to something if they don’t trust the individuals in charge.”
Orin first left Belize in 1984, and made his first trip back home in 1989, after which he has been making annual visits to the Jewel. On this most recent trip, he arrived in Belize on Friday, August 1, and expects to leave on Monday, August 18, for his residence in San Bernadino, California.
From the sports desk, enjoy the rest of your visit, safe return, and “big up” to two of Belize’s best – Orin “Coco” and the X!