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FOOTBALL IN BELIZE — THE SAME OR WORSE SINCE BERTIE CHIMILIO

FeaturesFOOTBALL IN BELIZE — THE SAME OR WORSE SINCE BERTIE CHIMILIO

by Wellington
C. Ramos,
former
national
football
player
On June 9,
2011, I wrote
an article that was published in
Caribbean Life newspaper about the
state of football in Belize under the
management of the then FFB
president Bertie Chimilio and the
problems FIFA was having with
bribery to vote for their
representatives. Since Chimilio left
the scene about eleven years ago, the
football situation has not improved
much, and some can argue that it has
gotten worse. All the presidents who
replaced him made several promises,
to improve the quality of football that
is being played in our country, but
they have failed to do so. The
challenge for our country of Belize
is to still develop a football team that
can play football competitively in the
region and the international arena to
compete and win a World Cup.
The FIFA organization was able
to recover from their scandals and
concentrate on football development
in the countries that are FIFA
members. They got rid of most of
the incompetent officials who were
elected because of payoffs and
bribes to get votes from their
organizations. Some of them had little
experience, expertise, knowledge, or
love and passion for the sport of
football. All they were interested in
was the money that FIFA gave them
to manage the sport in their
respective countries. For the football
players, former football players,
fans, business sponsors, supporters
and the Government of Belize to
allow FFB to continue running
football in Belize the way they are
managing it and expect better results
is wishful thinking. Nothing will
change unless we all come together
and demand some drastic changes
in FFB. Problems remain in league
elections,
funding, youth development,
training, staffing, primary school
FOOTBALL IN BELIZE — THE SAME OR
WORSE SINCE BERTIE CHIMILIO
competition, high school
competition, college/university
competition, inter-district
competition and the methods in
selecting a national team.
Our government of Belize cannot
wait for FIFA to discipline their
officials before they plan for the
improvement of football in the
country. The Minister of Sports must
become proactive and get himself
involved in this process. I think the
Minister should formulate a Sports
Commission, to examine the
problems with all sports in Belize.
At the conclusion of their findings,
they will be asked to make
recommendations to our country, as
to what we can do to improve our
quality of sports.
Over the years, judging from my
own experience when I played
football in Belize, selecting a national
football team was always unfair.
Many of the people who were chosen
to represent the country, were not
selected because of their abilities and
capabilities. A majority of them were
selected because of favoritism. A
selection committee should be
formed that will be empowered to
manage this process.
Through their committee, they can
select three of the best players for
each position and send them to the
training camp to compete among
themselves for the positions.
However, they must bear in mind that
some of our country’s rated players
are out of the country playing and
must be allowed to meet their
contractual obligations, but as
Belizeans these players should be
given the opportunity to participate
in the process to represent our
country.
In the United States there are many
Belizean American players, in a wide
range of sporting fields with
excellent training, talent, experience,
and professional skills. I am not too
sure about the new way in selecting
our country’s national football team.
I was told that over the years the
country used the team that won the
national football tournament as the
core team. Then they added other
players from several teams to make
up the national team. I am opposed
to this method and prefer when a
national committee is formed, to
select three of the best players
countrywide for each position.
They will then subsequently attend
training camp to compete among
themselves for the positions. Belize
has six districts, with each one having
a president and committee members
who are familiar with the players.
Among themselves they should be
able to formulate the rules and
regulations for selecting the best
players for each position in their
districts. In addition they could also
consider having the fans vote for the
best player for each position in the
country. This could make the
selection process look more
transparent, like what is done in the
United States for some sports. The
government of Belize will have to
start soliciting funds for this project,
and I am more than convinced that
many diehard football fans,
businesses, former football players
and others will be glad to contribute
towards this worthy cause. Sports
can be a way to generate employment
and income in our country.
For that to occur, we must change
our views about it and organize the
way the games are being played. We
can no longer afford to look at sports
from an entertainment perspective
only, but as a business also. This is
a golden opportunity for the Minister
of Sports to demonstrate how serious
he is. If he waits too long, he will
give the FFB the opportunity to regroup,
mobilize and continue to
control football in the same fashion
in Belize with little success. Since
Chimilio left FFB, the organization
has received millions of dollars to
improve football, but nothing much
has improved. I was informed that
they even received money to
establish a Belize Football Hall of
Fame (BFHF) for our players, and
they have not done it. If they have
failed to show appreciation to our
players, then they are not serious, in
my opinion. When you are spending
more money and you are not getting
much return on the money you spend,
it is time to rethink about the way you
are conducting your business.
The Belize football national team
is yet to qualify for the Second
Round in the World Cup qualifying
games. We are still in the doomsday
scenario of football in Belize.
Belizeans have been waiting too long
to see a high-caliber football team
represent their country. The recent
failures for Belize to qualify for the
World Cup and the CONCACAF
tournaments, give us a golden
opportunity to change the way
football business is being conducted
in our country. I am now calling on
the Minister of Sports to use his
power and act. This chaos and
confusion over football in Belize
must come to an end, if we are to
have any future in this sport.

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