At 4-1 in the second half, it was clear that the United States had Belize by the throat on Tuesday night. Wednesday morning is always a tough time for me where this job is concerned, so I really wanted to turn off the television and radio, hopefully then reduce my adrenaline levels and get some sleep. On a night like Tuesday when your national football selection is being bombed, sleep is difficult and troubled, but any sleep is better than no sleep at all.
They say when you don’t have anything good to say, then you don’t say anything at all. So, when I got up on Wednesday morning, which is when I usually write this column, I was in no mood to do my column. The game had absorbed most Belizeans for days, so there was no other subject to discuss: the only subject was we against the world.
At 4-1 in the second half on Tuesday night, I felt I owed it to our national selection to stay with them until the very end. At 4-1 in the second half, we were about to be “blown out,” as we say in sports. This is a time when your opponent has complete control and you are being attacked by feelings of panic. At times like these on the battlefield, men drop their arms and run. Belize could have been beaten worse on Tuesday night, but our young men did their best under the circumstances: they held up their heads when everything was falling apart. As a Belizean, I owed it to them to suffer through those 20, 25 minutes of hell.
I was listening to a BBC show on satellite radio last week, and they were talking about a guy who went through simulated childbirth pains. After about two hours of pains, the guy asked for the chalice to be taken from his lips. He couldn’t take it any more. Women laugh when they hear of such stories, because sometimes they go through half a day and more of childbirth pains. Women know that they are superior to men where the ability to suffer pain is concerned.
So then, if women go through childbirth hell, what is it that the Creator has designed for the male so that we also experience some form of hell? Men engage in sports and war, and on these fields of competition and conflict, they sometimes see what hell is: hell is when you are doomed to be humiliated in sports, to be slaughtered in war.
If ladies insist that childbirth is worse, I won’t spend time “beefing” with them. I would probably concede, because you can’t win when you argue with a woman. Still, the worst part of being a man is crushing defeat in competition and conflict. We Belizeans have historically had little involvement in armed conflict. This is good, of course, in a sense, but it is an area where our Central American brethren can look at us and express skepticism, skepticism about Belize’s cojones. Hemingway once described courage as “grace under pressure.” Kipling wrote, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you … you’ll be a Man, my son!” You’ll never know if you have cojones until you experience situations such as the one our Belize selection found themselves in on Tuesday night.
There are some mothers who love their sons so much they want to protect them from activities which are necessary for their molding into real men. This is not good. Men should be men, and they must learn how to react when they are terrified. Tuesday night in Portland was a terrifying experience for our Belizean football team. Many of you would not have seen that terror in them, but I can assure you that, 4-1 in the second half with 20, 25 minutes remaining, and everything going against you, that, beloved, was a terrifying experience.
They say what doesn’t kill you, strengthens you. If that is so, our young men will be stronger because of Tuesday night. Where someone like me would become angry, is because victory is always better than defeat, and we Belizeans have not done enough to train and equip our national selection. You watch the naked corruption in the public works around you, you watch nobody politicians begin to live lavish lives after they are elected to office, and you know we could have given our young men a better fighting chance on Tuesday night’s hemispheric stage.
Personally, I was devastated by the shellacking. I thought we would be more competitive. A lot of things went wrong on the way from Costa Rica to Oregon. I don’t want to bore you with my conspiracy theories. Listen to Sandra Coye. Her logic has been pretty tight.
We live to fight again. And, Belizeans, we’re all we’ve got. Power to the people. Power in the struggle.