I want to clarify three important points in your editorial article.
1. We have always invited and welcomed foreign athletes and coaches to participate in the work of the BAA and represent Belize at athletics events for which they are eligible and qualify. As a matter of fact, we have been criticised by this same entity, AMANDALA, of using more foreigners than Belizeans to represent us in international competition. Now we are criticised for not engaging foreigners. Make up your minds and not be blown around by winds of hearsay or ear-tickling persons.
2. Kaina Martinez was never and has never been given a cold shoulder. In 2016 Ms. Martinez was our first choice to represent us at the 2016 Olympics in Rio; it was a lack of her being responsible that caused that scenario. She has made the decision that she will not represent Belize or work with the BAA until such time as she desires. The BAA has not gone anywhere, so Ms. Martinez, we are still here.
3. In response to Mr. Greg Meyers, the only communication I received from Mr. Meyers was an email sent on February 5, 2022 to the BAA official email address, which I do not check. I was never contacted by Mr. Meyers until I personally responded to his email after seeing this article. Obviously, this was his first email, since this is where he introduced himself and stated his request. He seemingly was in communication with one Alvin Tillett (coach) and Jaheed Smith. The only question that was asked by me was done by Jaheed Smith, saying that one Mr. Meyers was asking if his children can represent Belize at CARIFTA in Jamaica. My simple answer was ‘yes, do they have Belize passport?’
I had no knowledge of Mr. Meyers coming to Belize to conduct any training. Unfortunately, that weekend I led a delegation of athletes and officials to the Central American Cross Country in Athletics that was hosted in San Salvador, El Salvador. I left on Thursday, February 17 and returned on Tuesday, February 22, 2022. If I had knowledge that Mr. Meyers was going to be at the MJSC to conduct training, or I would have ensured that someone from the BAA executive was present to meet the athletes we have agreed to represent us. Please note that it was on the 14th February, 2022 that we officially registered Mr. Meyer’s three (3) children to represent Belize and the BAA at the CARIFTA Games to be held in April of this year.
I must reiterate that the BAA has always welcomed foreign athletes and coaches to assist in the development of the sport of athletics. We have sought many ways to better the performance of our athletes, but while we do that, we try to ensure that the athletes of the BAA will [not] be taken advantage of in the process. Many have tried to do such. We will always aim to make BAA one of the best sporting associations and ensure our athletes have the enabling environment to perform their best. This will always be our number one priority. I have contacted Mr. Meyers via email and have welcomed him to share his knowledge and sporting expertise with us at the BAA. He has agreed to work with us for future programs.
The executive of the BAA are aware that many people have knowledge that the BAA elections are in the pipeline, and therefore the level of mischief will be up, but I hope that before this paper listens to hearsay and tickle-ears falsities, they will get the facts on any important matter or issue. If one desires to see the sport develop and progress, don’t be a person who tears down, but lend a hand and an idea to assist and build and make better and stronger.
Don’t say it. Show it.
(AMANDALA Editorial Note: Mr. Sutherland’s response to our editorial of Tuesday, February 22, is self-explanatory to any keen observer, so we won’t engage further at this time. Hopefully, as implied in his letter, this represents a new and better phase in the attitude of the Belize Athletic Association toward those eminently qualified and experienced Belizean coaches and athletes both at home and abroad who have previously felt unwelcome in their effort to contribute in uplifting the level of Belize athletics and our representation in international competition.)