BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 11, 2022 I watched the NBBA Interdistrict Championship game on TNC 10 last Saturday night, where the performance of two veteran players at the FFB Stadium reminded me that we don’ t yet have another “golden generation” of football stars to take us to the next level. It’s coming soon, hopefully.
With former national team striker Harrison “Cafu” Roches leading the attack and opening the scoring for Griga Conquerors FC against Belmopan’s Atletico FC, and the Griga defense anchored by another former national team player, Evan Mariano, who served the pass that Deon McCaulay used to send Belize to the Concacaf Gold Cup back in 2013, it was clear that age was not enough of a factor at the current Interdistrict level for this crop of young players to assert themselves over the veterans.
Cafu indeed played like a young buck, trailing the play aggressively in attack, and there are rumors that Mariano will be appearing in the upcoming, some say already started, Premier League of Belize Opening Season 2022-2023. Another outstanding veteran on the Griga squad was Jacinto “Fowl” Bermudez in defense.
While there are no guarantees that these “old timers” will be able to hold their own at the PLB level, they clearly have garnered enough football intelligence and experience to go along with still formidable physical hardware to contribute effectively for at least a portion of the ninety. And more, they are still entertaining and possessing of some loyal fans still searching for their likes among the new crop of footballers.
On the subject of veterans, I am also reminded of the Over-40 championship a couple weekends ago Friday, July 29, 2022 Despite the dilapidated, broken down bleachers, and the “bumpy field” that a San Pedro fan couldn’t resist deriding the Belize City fans about, after their U13 squad lost 1- nil to a dominant Belize City U13 selection earlier this afternoon, football fever is alive and well in the old capital, as poignantly demonstrated in the Over 40 Tournament Final tonight at the MCC.
It was all there for FFB President Sergio Chuc, special guest in his capacity as owner of Westline Bus Company, chief sponsor of the tournament, to witness – the competitive but still friendly rivalry of the veterans, the cheering and sometimes jeering fans at every threat at goal or blundered effort, including the vociferous chastisement and cussing out of the referee by the leading lady fan of each team. All the ingredients to help make a match interesting and exciting, even if the level of play was not superlative. And suspenseful too.
Kulture Yabra entered tonight’s second leg of the finals series with 3-1 cushion from the first leg; and it looked like it would be smooth sailing all the way when their relentless offensive pressure from the start of the game was rewarded at the 22nd minute with an own goal by Medina’s Pickstock Lake after a difficult save by their goalie Aaron Buckley, who denied rookie Over 40 Kulture star Jarro James repeatedly tonight. Jarro had scored twice in last Saturday’s 1st leg of the Final, but tonight his many valiant efforts were in vain, as Buckley had his number.
A stunning grounder from just inside the eighteen by John Castro (38’) tied it up for Lake before the half; and early in second half Bruce Carrillo (54’) put Lake in front, 2-1, and suddenly it was looking like trouble for the Yabra veterans, some of whom are over 50 and a few even nearing 60.
One more goal from the pressing Lake and it would be 3-1 and an aggregate 4-4 tie. The game picked up noticeably in intensity, with the referee having to resort to a few yellow cards and even a red to calm the hostilities. Yabra was pressing for the security goal, and a couple fine run-through passes from Manu to Jarro were thwarted by the out- coming Aaron Buckley who intercepted a number of plays near the edge of the eighteen.
But it was the astute veteran David “Manu” McCaulay who sealed the deal for Kulture Yabra, surprising Buckley on one such move with a high lob from forty yards out that sank into the back of the net beyond the reach of the back pedaling and diving Buckley. 2-2 tie; and suddenly Kulture once again had a 2 goal cushion and only 10 minutes remaining. It stayed that way until the long whistle, giving Kulture Yabra the aggregate 5-3 series win and the championship.