In international sports, the home team almost always has a clear advantage, and that advantage lies in the size and energy of the partisan home crowd. Last week Belize finally hosted a major regional football event – the Under-16 tournament for Central American nations. There was no home field advantage for Belize, because there was no home crowd to speak of. ???
Ideally, such an event should have been staged in Belize City, the population center. But Belize City, as incredible as it may sound to non-Belizeans, does not have an adequate football facility. The one we had which should have been upgraded – MCC Grounds, was instead violated in cold blood by Mayor Zenaida Moya, the protégé of a UDP Cabinet Minister who claims to love the beautiful game. This is strange. But, this is Belize, a strange country indeed.
Belizean football remained colonial in its thinking because it was controlled over the decades by people, culminating with Dr. Bertie Chimilio, who did not see the players and the fans as priority. Historically, the priority in Belizean football has been the administrators, the officials and the referees. This is a legacy of the colonial days, when the leading officials and referees worked for the powerful British business establishments in the colony – Belize Estate, Brodies, and Harley’s. The priority was to keep the natives who played the sport in line with colonial discipline. The football fans did not count, because the football players were not paid and the gate receipts vanished anyway. It was out of this kind of thinking that we ended up with Dr. Chimilio, a megalomaniac who served the Trinidadian Jack Warner’s interests, instead of the interests of Belizean football. Of course, Chimilio had his paid collaborators. This is a long story.
But, we’ll cut it short. The new FFB president, Ruperto Vicente, is a sincere man who needs all the support he can get. But there is a lot of politics in football, and the colonial mentality persists in Belize. Overcoming that colonial mentality is a big, big challenge for Mr. Vicente.
The most important organization where any national selection is concerned, is the selection committee. You have to understand that football is a sport where everybody thinks he or she is a major expert on the sport of football itself and on footballers as such. The selection committee for national selections has to prove to the people of Belize that they represent all the football programs and districts of Belize, and that they do not represent special interests of any kind whatsoever. By the way, we consider denominational religion and electoral politics to be special interests. All selectors must be identified for the Belizean people to assess. This is our thesis.
You can’t have good football without good referees. That is for sure. But the reason football is such big business all over the world, except in Belize, is because it is the players who make the game, and the fans who love them pay to see them play. Because Belize football still has a colonial mentality, unlike the rest of the world, there are football officials and referees here who think they are more important than the players and the fans. Ruperto Vicente has to find a way to change that colonial mentality.
Finally, for now, you know that in the rest of the world the media is very important for national football success, because it is their job to flush out all the special interests and sacred cows who introduce friendship and favoritism into the process and force ability into the background.
Belize cannot compare itself with Mexico. The Mexicans fought revolutions and wars to destroy colonialism. In Belize, colonialism still rules. Another name for it is prayers.
Power to the people.