BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Sept. 30, 2021– From the Amandala sports desk, I would like to join the softball community in extending our sincere condolences to his wife, Gretel, and other relatives and friends of legendary Belize Softball National Team Manager, Raymond Lashley, who passed on September 20 after a long illness, and was laid to rest last Friday, September 24, at the Eternal Gardens Cemetery at Mile 13 on the George Price Highway.
Recognized as a Hall of Fame coach and manager by the International Softball Federation (ISF) for his outstanding achievements over decades with the Belize Softball National Team, many fans are not currently aware that brother Raymond also had a brief stint at the helm of local football in Belize City.
After perennial complaints about its annually elected committee in charge of running the Belize City competition, footballers were receptive to the candidacy of the then acclaimed softball manager, and thus Raymond Lashley was elected president of the Belize City football association back around 1977-78. However, after a year of contentious football politics, Lashley had had enough of dealing with “contrary” footballers, and “walked away” to resume his focus on softball, where his sterling achievements are well documented.
As a footballer myself at the time, it has always been my impression that a controversial event upstairs of then Riverside Hall, where the ‘ballers voted to “spree out” two hundred dollars from the association’s coffers after a successful season, might have soured Lashley’s feelings toward the outlook of those involved with the sport of football. However, perhaps unbeknownst to Lashely at the time, footballers had been frustrated for years with reports of “the committee bruk” at season’s end, when all they could hope for in the amateur sport was a “half orange” at half time at games. I think Evan X Hyde was the vice-president at that time, and later that year accompanied a Belize selection on a historic undefeated tour of Mexico.
Some years later, in late-1985, apparently at the behest of Santino, who was thinking of possibly sponsoring the Milpros team in football, Lashley took on a group of Milpros football players and managed them, assisted by another softball legend, Ms. Hadie Gomez, as the Think Sharp team in a male softball competition at Rogers Stadium. Some Milpros ‘ballers on that Think Sharp softball team included Gilroy “Coro” Usher, Ronald “Ronny” Greaves, Maurice “Reesho” Jones and yours truly. (Help me with some names, guys.) As footballers, we learned a lot about the nuances of the softball game under Lashley’s generalship; and we appreciated his style. He was no “soft pop;” but a realist, a “hard-nosed” competitor and a positive thinker, which perhaps partly explains his great success as coach or manager with female softball teams.
The Think Sharp team did not do badly in the softball competition, although the plan was to get back into football gears for the upcoming football season, when it was anticipated that Santi would sponsor the team. However, a few weeks before the football Marathon Day in early November, Santi backed out when it became clear that the Milpros management didn’t relish his proposal to have the legendary Mr. Hoy of Landivar become the coach of the team. Thereafter, Nick Pollard and Coca Cola stepped into the vacuum, and as they say, the rest is history.
Thanks for the memories and your contribution to sports in Belize; and Rest In Peace, brother Raymond Lashley!