The Grigamandala project, or experiment, lasted only a single semi-pro football season – 1999/2000, but there are a couple of the Belize City players from that project who have become active and exemplary working with young footballers in Belize City. These are Stanley “Air Jordan” Reneau and Dion “Pussy” Flowers. I guess we on Partridge Street would like to think that the Grigamandala experience contributed to their maturing and community awareness.
We had some specific young men we felt were in absolute need of such a project. These were young men out of the Mayflower/Banak area of Southside Belize City. Neither Reneau or Flowers came out of that area, so they were not the primary targets of our exercise. If the Grigamandala experience was positive for Jordan and Pussy, then perhaps those benefits may be described as ancillary.
Some history is necessary here. There was a time when Belize City only reached as far as Pound Yard. Going west from the area where the Vernon Street fish market is presently located, where the Haulover Creek and Collet Canal intersect, the area west of that used to be all mangrove swamp, and in the middle of that swamp was a body of fresh water that we knew as “Prisoner Creek” in the 1950s. In line with his Belizean self-esteem and nationalism program, Premier George Price began referring to Prisoner Creek by the lofty title of “Lake Independence.” This was when Belizeans in the old capital, mostly working class, were beginning to push westwards in the 1960s.
In the late 1960s, a resident of Mayflower Street named Lester Smith organized the young men of “The Lake” into a senior football team he called “Lakers.” Lester Smith was a Belize City Market butcher who was known in the streets by several nicknames, including “Bailar,” “Experience,” “Sundance,” “Kid,” and so on. He was a very popular guy. Experience had played football at the old Edwards Park (later Rogers Stadium), but he was no superstar.
As a football organizer and manager, however, Bailar proved himself an absolute genius. I believe it was after the 1972/73 season that he added Chris Mayen and Larry Bennett to his team, and this raised Lakers to the level where they could compete with the big boys – Spurs, Landivar, and so on. At the same time that he recruited Christobal and Charro, Bailar won over a big time sponsor – Ernest Black, who had just added Berger paints to his agency portfolio.
Thus, Lakers became Berger 404, and suddenly they were exciting and competitive on the MCC Garden. Players I remember offhand were Gene Guild, Emerson Guild, James Adderly, Jumping Jack Sutherland, Chicka Staine, Harrison Flowers, Bunu Cal Robateau, and Manuel Wong. (Ricky and Fabian were afterwards.) Berger 404 won the senior football title in 1974/75. Chris Mayen was the superstar player/coach of the squad, but then there was a separation between himself and Bailar.
Bailar got his own sponsor and began building his own team, which eventually became the championship Chito’s Rangers.
Mr. Black remained with Stobal for a few years. Mr. Black was the best sponsor Lake football ever had. He was a good guy. After him came some sponsors who were involved with contraband, marijuana, and alcohol. Lake Independence football teams remained championship organizations in the 1980s, but they lost their innocence, so to speak.
The Lake generation born in the 1970s who were growing up to play football in the 1990s, began to be distracted by the gang culture which had drifted down here from California in the late 1980s. Sponsors began to avoid Mayflower/Banak, and, by default, Kremandala ended up as the only sponsor for Lake football.
James Adderly had a younger brother who was a more famous footballer than he – Anthony “Garrincha” Adderly. While Garrincha had played two or three seasons with Lake I teams in the 1970s, he was a Dangriga man, whereas James settled permanently in Belize City. James’ oldest son was Anthony Adderly, named like his uncle Garrincha. James’ son became known as “Trigger.” His mother was Sandra Trapp, whose mother was the late Deltrude Uter. Through Miss Deltrude, I became Trigger’s godfather.
Trigger had the talented Adderly genes, but by 1999 the Ghost Town Crips controlled Mayflower/Banak, and what I saw happening was that the football teams coming out of Mayflower/Banak, teams we were sponsoring, were becoming extensions of the gang. Remember now, semi-pro football had created financial opportunity for talented youth, beginning in 1991, but gangs and football could not mix.
Grigamandala was an attempt to take some Belize City youth to Dangriga so that they could be disciplined by Garrincha, who, in addition to his football exploits, had been a senior Belize Defence Force officer. Trigger was a prime target for this project, because Garrincha was his uncle. It was an expensive project, because of having to move 7 or 8 young men to Dangriga every week for training, plus boarding and lodging.
Belize City football was dominated at that time by Andrew “Pawpa” Brown’s Kulture Yabra, and, even though the Grigamandala team started mostly Dangriga players, Grigamandala in certain respects represented a challenge to Kulture’s old capital rule and fan base. Kulture was led by the legendary Tiliman, then in his prime. I must also mention Estevan Hall and Deron Jones, also in their prime. A really intense rivalry developed between Grigamandala and Kulture Yabra.
The 1999/2000 season ended with Tony Zabaneh’s Sagitun of South Stann Creek and Grigamandala in the finals. At home in Carl Ramos, Griga won the first of the championship series, but lost the second game to Sagitun in Independence. The teams then travelled to the MCC Garden in Belize City for the rubber, championship match. We lost. The Belize City fans appeared to support Sagitun against Grigamandala. That was disappointing, but I guess it was because of the intensity of the Kulture Yabra-Grigamandala rivalry.
Less than a year later, Trigger Adderly was shot dead. Because of his tragic death, I would have to say that I think we failed with the Grigamandala project.
Last week in the UDP newspaper, a lady who is married to the former UDP Prime Minister wrote in what she believed was an authoritative manner about sports, and she ended her piece negatively. I do not consider her an authority on the subject, and if it was the case that she influenced her husband, then I understand why Mr. Esquivel behaved the way that he did towards Kremandala during his regimes.
You must understand this: for those of us who live and work in this area, sports is a way of life and a way of work. It is not some academic exercise or political game. Sports and education are not mutually exclusive aspects of life. The body and the mind are fused in living reality. If you haven’t lived what you’re talking about, shut your mouth.