Letters — 26 July 2013 — by Joseph Alvarez

Dear Sir,

It’s always interesting to read commentaries and articles in the print media of how things were in the past and how it has changed over the years in Belize. The discussion has become so intense that at one point the question was, have we become a failed state since achieving Independence or should we have remained a colony of Britain.

The most intriguing subject for me is in relation to sports and athletes who were dominant in their particular sports discipline in the past. These comments are made by very prominent Belizeans or government officials. They are important stories that must be mentioned and also documented for the future generation. However, what have we done as people who have witnessed and experienced the greatness and glory of these athletes to make life and sports more rewarding for our youths today? The question is more directed to those who have so many fond memories of the past and have now become important and influential personalities in our society.

Since 1998 there have been quite a few men who enjoyed the game and some even played sports that have become Ministers of Government. I was so hopeful that there would have been a major shift in the way sports is being handled for the sole benefit of our youth, but it was to no avail. This issue has become very important since our national team made representation at the international football tournament in the Americas Gold Cup.

It’s always a good thing to reminisce about how great our athletes were, the success they have attained, and the great pride and joy they brought to the country, but we‘ll never see where we’re going if we’re always looking back.

Besides creating programs for the development of every sports discipline starting from young age, amateurism should be a thing of the past. It’s still incomprehensible to me when hearing stories of crowded stadiums around the country where people would pay hard earned money to watch high levels of football or even basketball, just to realize that at the end of the games only the organizers and administers saw and enjoyed the gate’s money instead of the athletes who performed and made the event happen.

There are big bucks in sports today and we must give our children a chance to expose their talent and skills. Enough of playing for the love of the sports: if money should come out of it, let it be. Just like the Center for Employment Training and ITVET, we must also create a sports academy in Belize. Sports should be considered a skill just like any other skill that can generate financial benefits for oneself and family.

Criticizing and lamenting on the negatives and shortcomings of our athletes is definitely not the solution. The Government must now take the lead in this regard. There is so much waste in the system. We must double the sports budget for the year and identify and channel some of those wasteful spending into the Ministry of Sports.

Also by partnering with the private sector the possibilities are endless. With all the talent and skills that our young people possess I am convinced that we could compete at the highest level and succeed. I look forward to the day when we are properly represented in the Olympics and are considered as a favorite to win. The same in the World Cup. If Jamaica and those other countries in the region can do it then so can Belize.

We owe it to our kids: let’s give them a chance to make us proud and to generate genuine nationalism in the nation. The Belize Jaguars have made a positive start in that direction. Let’s follow through and do it for our children’s sake. If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail. We can do it, so let it be done.

Concerned citizen
Joseph Alvarez

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