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#431364 - 02/25/12 04:22 PM A chat with footballer Gerald “Speedy” Henry
Marty Offline

We lost our bag with the recorded interview on January 20, and, praise God and our beautiful Belizean people, we got it back on February 13. There has been a new development since we did the interview. Ruperto Vicente now heads one of the slates challenging Bertie Chimilio, replacing Sergio Chuc, who will contest for a vice-president post. Both Ruperto and Sergio are very familiar to present day footballers; not so Speedy, which is why we did the interview. Some areas of the tape are difficult to decipher because of noise interference, but we have done our best to reproduce our conversation as it happened:-

(in Kremandala yard, under the coconut tree, around 10:15 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Wednesday, January 18, 2012.)

Okay, let’s see how I can do this now. First of all, I would say that Gerald “Speedy” Henry is a name familiar to myself and to many older football players and fans, not necessarily to the younger generation of footballers.

Football (has) been through a whole lot of crisis over the years, and I think the general sentiment across the country is (that) we need a change.

The point right now, after some turbulent elections under an Electoral Committee appointed by the present FFB administration, that has been sort of topsy turvy,… but there is a hope, a strong hope and feeling that there can be a change in the leadership of the FFB, finally, after 12 years of Mr. Bertie Chimilio as the President.

(There is) a lot of dissatisfaction amongst the (members of the) football community.

Presently, we have two separate slates of candidates being proposed to challenge Mr. Chimilio’s presidency.

One, the most recent one, is (led by) Mr. Sergio Chuc, who most people know was the manager/owner of Verdes, who were the (national) champions a couple years ago; and he was also the last Chairman, Acting-Chairman of the BPFL, which ended its competition in 2011 (before completion), when they withdrew from the FFB. Sergio has recently put together a slate to also challenge for the presidency of the FFB.  

The other slate, which has been discussed for some time, is led by Mr. Gerald “Speedy” Henry.

Myself, I know Speedy from football in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s with the Avengers football team. But that’s as much as I knew of Speedy Henry. But it was enough for me to have a lot of respect for him, the way I saw him play, and conduct himself in football.

Recently, I have gathered some more information, and I just thought that footballers, the football family, and people considering the situation, especially the district associations’ people, and the new league, who will make a decision later on, need to look at Speedy’s candidacy, I think, seriously, and consider where he is coming from, so they can make….

(A document)…. here on Speedy, with just the bare outline from a leaflet prepared for his candidacy, refers to him as a “well known football star on the famous Rocking-R and the Mighty Avengers from the Cayo District in the 1970s’.” He has “organized numerous football tournaments for district teams in the Cayo District during the early ‘80’s.” And “as an administrator/manager, served in the Government Public Service for thirty-eight (38) years,” first as “Clerk of Court; Magistrate/District Officer in Corozal, Toledo and Cayo districts; and served for eighteen (18) years as Permanent Secretary/Chief Executive Officer in the Ministries of Works & Transport, Banana & Citrus, Housing, and Public Service.”

But, all that aside, from a footballer’s perspective, the question a regular ‘baller, a person involved with the sport now, a person hungry for change in football would want to get an idea, first of all, who, who is “Speedy” Henry? This person that some older heads are saying, “Bwai, dis da di man, really fi turn football ‘round fi wi right now.” Who is Speedy Henry? Where is he from? You know, give us some background.

Amandala (A): Speedy, let’s go to the beginning. Where are you from?

Speedy (S): I am from San Ignacio, Cayo District. And… I started playing football at age sixteen (16), in major league football at age sixteen. And I played the sport for twenty (20) years.

A: In San Ignacio?

S: San Ignacio and all over the country.

A: But you lived in San Ignacio.

S: I lived in San Ignacio, all my life. I have lived there, but, because I was a public officer, there were times when, during that public service career, I was transferred to Toledo, …

A: You’ve been a public officer during all your career?

S: Yes, all my career; one employment, and that is with the public service. 

A: Okay, so you started playing at sixteen. You recall the first team you played for?

S: Western District.

A: But you had a high school….

S: Yes, I did a year out in Belize City, here at Wesley College; because at that time we didn’t have any high school in Cayo. So I came to Wesley College.

A: What year would that be?

S: It would have been 1961, I think.

A: Okay, before the hurricane?

S:  Yes, yes.

A: Because we had a devastating hurricane (Hattie) in October of that year.

S: Yes; I was here in 1961 (before the hurricane), but I went back home after speaking with one of the teachers at Sacred Heart.

During that time frame there, Sacred Heart, the doors were opened there for a high school. And so, being from that area, one day I was with one of my friends, and he introduced me to one of the teachers. And he asked me… they were also trying to put together a football team at the secondary school level… because at that time they had SJC, they had Xavier College from Corozal, they had Lynam at the time, and so they were trying to put together a team, but a lot of them were not football players, as such. So, when the teacher heard that I played the game, he asked, “Well, why are you going to Wesley College, when you can go to Sacred Heart?”

And I said to him, “Look; finances. At Wesley College you get all your books free.”

A: What?

S: At that time all your books were free. The tuition, I think, was ten dollars a month.

A: You had relatives in Belize City that you stayed with?

S: I had an aunt here that I stayed with. She was living around by Racecourse Street. So I said to him, you know, “I can’t afford to buy books,” because, you know, I…

A: What was your father doing in….?

S: This is the part I was about to tell you. I grew up without a father. It’s only my mother who raised me. She used to sell…

A: Your father died early, or he just went away…?

S: They parted ways from I was young, and…

A: You don’t recall him?

S: No. I don’t recall him at all. I don’t recall him. He left, and he went to teach in Guatemala. And I think the problem arose because my mother didn’t want to go to Guatemala to live at that time; and so they just parted ways. So…

A: He was a Belizean?

S: Yes. So, my brother, Lloyd Henry…

A: How many brothers you have?

S: One.

A: Any sisters?

S: No sister. Just one brother.

A: Lloyd is older than you?

S: No; I am older.

A: That name sounds familiar. Is that a church man..?

S: Lloyd is the priest.

A: Okay, okay…

S: And he used to be very athletic. In fact, he was a sprinter. They used to call him, “di Fly.”

A: Oh, yes! (laughs) Now, you said the word!... I remember that name… from the annual track meet at the MCC Grounds. I remember “di Fly.” 

Speedy (S): And he used to be very athletic. In fact, he was a sprinter. They used to call him, “di Fly.”

Amandala (A): Oh, yes! (laughs) Now, you said the word!... I remember that name… from the annual track meet at the MCC Grounds. I remember “di Fly.” (Lloyd Henry)                  

S: Yaa, that’s my only brother. So, my mother she worked, did different jobs in order to raise two sons. And so, when I spoke with the teacher, he said, “Well, man, if it is books you want, we can provide you with the books.”

  

So I said, “No problem.”

  

And I went home and I told my mother that, you know….

A: But you said, he heard that you played football…

S: Yes, because my friends told him. That…

A: Before leaving Cayo to come to Belize City, you weren’t playing football already?

S: I was. I was playing footall because… remember that we had all these…

A: You had primary school competitions?

S: We didn’t have primary school competitions; but there was always Broaster Stadium. It wasn’t called Broaster Stadium at the time; it was just a field. But we would all gather out there in the evenings and play football until late. And then, later on, when we had the…. Because remember, we had the Inter-District competition…

A: Yaa, I remember that. I don’t recall when it began…

S: I don’t recall when it began, but I was caught up in it; and at that time, it was a competition among all the districts. And so, as a young player, some of the older players, like Earl Haylock, who is now deceased..

A: Ahaan?

S: Yaa, Earl passed. And some of the others, like Alwin Smith, Toby Smith, Dave Smith, “Maya” Ortega, you know, those were the guys who used to form the “Western District” team, as it was known.

A: At that time… that was before Avengers, then.

S: That was before Avengers. That was before Rocking-R. We used to call ourselves simply, Western District. Our greatest rival around that time was Dangriga, Stann Creek Selection…

A: With Tubuk (Ivan Martinez)?

S: Yaa, with Tubuk, and that little crowd there, a very, very solid team…

A: So, at sixteen you went to Sacred Heart. That’s before you began playing with the big team, Western District?

S: Yes. When I was at Sacred Heart, in 1962, that was the time when I was selected to form part of the Western District team, around that same time. So that was how I got into the sport.

A: So, at sixteen you were right up into the big leagues.

S: Yea. In fact, I will tell you, the first time I met… you know…. When we had a game in Cayo against Stann Creek, you know, there were players like Elmo, Tubuk, Leslie,…

A: Roddy Leslie?

S: Roddy Leslie, you know, all those guys; and in fact, when I, a very slim fellow, I mean… you’re not developed properly yet…

A: What position you played at that time?

S: Midfield.

A: Which side?

S: Right… And, I mean, when I looked at… for instance, I recall in my mind, Tubuk…

A: Tubuk. That man’s legs were like...

S: Something like this (shows with his hands), and I said, “Man,” I tell you… I said, “Man, I don’t think I could clash with this guy,” you know. And, eventually we had to; because, you know, once you’re on the field of play, there will come a time when you… And so, yes, when we clashed the first time, I went a little bit cautiously, because I said, “The next thing you know,” when you looked on his legs, you know, I said, “Boy, this thing might knock me down”…. But, surprisingly, it was not like that. It was just like any ordinary player, you know, according to me. And so, after that, the fear left, and I just tackled him when he was coming, you know. But that was actually the beginning.    

A: ’62 Western District. You don’t recall any others of the players besides… you mentioned the Smith brothers, Earl Haylock… on the team at that time. Who was the captain?

S: Yaa, I think it was Earl. Because there were other players…

A: Was “Waggie” with the team then? Wagner, the goalie.

S: No, no, no; he came during Rocking-R, the days of Rocking-R. That’s when we had the two brothers, the two Wagner brothers, if you recall…

A: Yaa, two goalie…

S: George and Tony. Two goalkeepers, very solid guys.

A: So in ’62 you played with Western District; and then after that…?

S: Then, after that, I remember that… We…

A: At that time you weren’t… you were still going to school at Sacred Heart…

S: Well, I graduated from Sacred Heart in ’65.

A: Okay, so you were still at Sacred Heart (during that period)…

S: Yaa, I was still at Sacred Heart. And then, you know, the Inter-District was every year… so I played throughout that period… after leaving…

A: You don’t recall how the Western District went… They didn’t win any of those Inter-District…

S: No. Our greatest rival was always Stann Creek…

A: Stann Creek was the winner?

S: Yaa, Queens Park, you know, they were always part of…

A: Queens Park Rangers, they were practically a semi-pro team at that time, right? They all worked with the (citrus) company…

S: Yea. What happened was that, the company at that time used to draw… because at that time, you know, some of those boys like Kenny Gray, and so on, they were actually from out of Cayo, you know; but they ended up at Stann Creek because of the job situation. And then, I think, Mr. Sharp used to make sure that…. He would give them jobs, and then they played for the area… which I felt was a good thing.

A: Joe Mendez used to play (with them) at that time?

S: Yaa… I think, yea, Joe Mendez… but I… not during my time… I don’t recall ever playing against him… but that was a name…

A: You heard that name around there…?

S: Yaa. Yaa. Very good, I was told, very good player. But…

A: Griga ruled at that time…

S: Yaa, Griga was very strong.

A: So, up until… you played with Western District a few years… you graduated in ’65 from Sacred Heart… then what? You got your first job?

S: Then I started working with Government, in San Ignacio, at the Sub-Treasury up there. And then… but during that time, I was still playing, you know, I was still playing… you still go out and exercise… and then…

A: They had a competition in Cayo?

S: Yes. We would have our own district competition… And I played for a team at the time named Moraton, because the area that I lived was Moraton…

A: Moraton? Not Marathon, like the Spanish name (team) in Honduras?

S: No, no; Moraton. The team was sponsored by Gus Torres at the time, who had a bakery. In fact, we were even… when we came out for the first time, you know, because the uniform we used resembled the empty flour sack...

A: (laughs) So dehn boy must-i call unu “flour bag team”?

S: (laughs) Yaa. So they would call us “the flour sack team.” But it wasn’t bad, you know.

A: You remember any notable players on the team at that time?

S: With Moraton? Yea, we had “Pappy” Smith…

A: Pappy was with you?

S: Yaa. We had Nayo Waight, we had Russel Waight, we had…

A: It sounds like you were one of the top teams…

S: Well, we… no, but you had Tio Lennan and some of the others…

A: “Steeler” (Garbutt)?

S: Steeler????.. No… I don’t remember… No, yaa… I think Steeler played with us, you know, but I’m not sure… I’m not sure…

A: Anyhow, you played…

S: But we played; and we won the competition. The other teams… like Highlanders had Tio Lennan; they had, you remember “Lacio” Martinez?

A: That’s Mike? (brother of San Joaquin’s famous striker, Fred Martinez)

S: Yaa, Mike Martinez… those were some of the other players…

A: How about the Trapp brothers? “Haabat” (Herbert Trapp) wasn’t playing then?

S: They were Esperanza. Right. So, that competition we would play for our own area.

A: Okay.

S: The Trapp brothers would play for Esperanza. And then you had guys like… from Santa Elena… like Maya would play for Santa Elena…

A: Maya! That name always rings out.

S: Maya Ortega. Yaa, the control man…

A: Yes, man.

S: Very… man, he bring ball from his chest to… you know…

A: I had heard talking that he was from the older group… he spent a while in Guatemala or something like that...?

S: He studied… Well, he played football in Honduras, himself and Alwin Smith.

A: Alwin too?

S: Yaa, Alwin was there, at the time when there was a Catholic priest in Cayo; and he arranged for them to be attached to a team in Honduras. So they played there.

A: So, Maya would be senior to you by about how many years?

S: Maya is in his seventies. I’m sixty-five, so I’m quite certain he has me by, maybe about eight years…

A: He was the center-forward at the time?

S: Yea, he was; he was the man, the man with lot of control. And so… you don’t slip with him when you’re in that area, because he was very, very good on controlling the ball…

A: So, Moraton. And then you said… and after that you go on to the Western… you still played with the Western…

S: No, no. We still played… yaa… and when we had, we had… and then we moved to Rocking-R.

A: That would be about ’66 then?

S: That would be… somewhere around there… yaa, that would be somewhere around there, the… early… I think it was a bit later than that, when we had Rocking-R. But that team was controlled by a gentleman by the name of “Bull,” who… they had a business out in Esperanza, a tobacco business out there, where they would grow tobacco and then ship… And so, he wanted to, you know… He liked the game, and so he said, “Look, I am willing to sponsor a team, to enter the Belize City competition.”

A: Up to that time, the Inter-District, where you mentioned that Stann Creek ruled, Inter-District involved all the districts – Belize, Corozal, Orange Walk, everybody…?

S: Yaa, yaa… I don’t remember… Belize City wasn’t. We never had Belize; it was only for the districts, the other districts.

A: So, Belize City, they had their own competition.

S: They had their own competition, right.

A: But individual clubs… I can recall in the Belize City competition used to come… San Joaquin used to always visit Belize City to play in the competition from Corozal. And we also had… at different times we had R.A.C., Salada Eleven (from Stann Creek)… used to come in and play in the Belize City competition on their own.

S: Yea, all of that you had… one of our rivals during the Belize City…

A: So, Rocking-R played in the Belize City competition?

S: Yea.

A: You had some guys from Belize City also on that team, did you? Or just Cayo…?

S: No. Mostly Cayo players… But, we played against “Mugga” (Louis Garbutt), “Palmer” Davis, you know… guys like those. And, as Rocking-R, we made a name for ourselves… Because, I remember, the song when we would arrive in town, you know… “Who will take out the Big-R?” (laughs)

(to be continued in the next issue)

Amandala


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#431682 - 02/29/12 03:18 PM Re: A chat with footballer Gerald “Speedy” Henry [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Continued from previous issue of Sunday, February 26, 2012  

A: So, Rocking-R played in the Belize City competition?

S: Yea.

A: You had some guys from Belize City also on that team, did you? Or just Cayo…?

S: No. Mostly Cayo players… But, we played against “Mugga” (Louis Garbutt), “Palmer” Davis, you know… guys like those. And, as Rocking-R, we made a name for ourselves… Because, I remember, the song when we would arrive in town, you know… “Who will take out the Big-R?” (laughs)

A: (laughs) Who was the captain of Rocking-R? Was it still Earl (Haylock)? Earl was still…

S: Earl was still there, yes… He was still there… But it was the… That’s… say the same players… All we did was add on from time to time…. Because around that time too, you had other younger players who used to play with the junior team… because we had competitions in Cayo… So, out of that, you would look at people who, who excelled, and you would try and bring them under your wings, and, you know… we would take…

A: So, you (Rocking-R) would be the only big team coming out of Cayo to these big competitions outside; so you could draw any player…

S: We could draw any player there for our own benefit… for the benefit of… let’s say, playing the Inter-District, as well as playing in the Belize City league.

A: Okay… And you played in both competitions at the same time? While you played in the Belize City competition, you also participated in the (Inter) District?

S: Yes, we would… most of the players would…     

A: You played as Western District in the ‘District competition..

S: Yaa, we played as Western District.

A: And in (Belize) City you played as Rocking-R.

S: Yaa, because remember, Western District was only… the competition was only for a certain period. So, once that is over… no other competition… we would… at that time, you know, the guy Bull said, “Look,” you know, “I want to sponsor a team,” you know…

A: That used to be a problem in the (Belize) City. When the competition is finished, guys… unless they played basketball too, or some other sports… they were kind of left idle until a long time before a next season begins. So, playing in another competition keeps you active, and in shape. So, how many years Rocking-R played?

S: Hmmm…

A: It wasn’t too long, because…

S: It wasn’t too long… I would say about, about three or four years, I think. That was the most. And then we went back to… we had our ‘District competition… Inter-District competition, after we had…

A: You never won the City competition?   

S: No. No. We came close to it… but, I think one of the things that happened was that, there were some of the guys here that, you know… I mean, you can’t come here and… pretty your plays, and so on, you know… So, some of the guys will kick you, and… But, that’s all a part of the game, you know… That’s all a part of the game. But, the guys… you know, like the Mugga, and so on, we… we were still friends. I mean… ninety minutes of rivalry; but at the end of the game, we’re friends, you know…              

A: At that time on Rocking-R, what position were you playing?

S: I was playing midfield, too

A: The same midfield?

S: Yaa, and then…

A: What you think about the Mugga, at the time when you guys…

S: Boy!.. very nice player, very good player, very tricky player… But you can see… you will see the sneaky part of him, right? Which was the move, and the… “rock” you, and so on… and… but he can also be rough…

A: (laughs) Yaa…

S: (laughs) Yaa… because… when you see him drop his shoulder, you know… it’s because he wants to use that left foot… so you better make sure you are a little distance away… so that shoulder can’t lean on you, you know.. (laughs)… But, em… they were good guys, good guys… I mean… everybody wants to win… and if you could… Because, remember, the sport is one where, if you can get away with things… that’s to your advantage, you know… You don’t set out to… I don’t say anybody was setting out directly to hurt anybody else… that’s not the game that we used to play… you know, it was more…

A: It gets rough sometimes…

S: Yea, yea… It gets rough… you know, because sometimes you do come here, and you beat the teams… and then, later on… later on, you know… or you had beaten them in some other way, you know… and then you meet them on the field, you know… Maybe in a subsequent game, they realize, “Well, bwai, dehn bwai ya dehn…,” because one of the things that we were good at, was that we remained fit… and we utilized the hills, you know… we utilized the hills a lot… because we realized from early that… that you need to understand how the game is played. And if you know how the game is played, then you practice to suit that.

A: Yaa. One thing I can recall, fans would always look forward to a certain standard of play… ball movement… and, indeed, the team always looked fit, and they played fit.

S: Yaa, we were always fit. Always fit. In fact, our… we would go out to the field… we meet out by the field, and then we would take off from there, up the Buena Vista… the San Ignacio Hotel hill there… and we would go as far as Succotz-Benque.

A: That’s about almost five miles?

S: At that time, that was, like, seven or eight miles. We would walk, maybe one lamp-post (distance), and then we jogged, and then we sprint two, right? And, the whole of the journey would be that way, you know. When you are going to Benque, as you know, there are some…

A: There are some steep hills..

S: Some hills, yea. There are some areas that are hilly. And then you go down, and then you go up again… so.. and it’s the same process you go through when you are coming back. And then, in addition to that, we would still go to the field.

A: You still roll some ball?

S: We still go to the field and do scrimmage. Sometimes, you would be out there until dark. And then, when we were doing our practicing out there, you would believe that there was a game going on… because, what used to happen is that, people who are fans of our team would be out there till… they watched the practice till dark. And then, on our own, we used to have a situation where we would say to the forwards… “Dis evening, unu no di come een ya,”… so there would have been…

A: When unu done come from road?

S: No, when we were doing the scrimmage… We would say, “Unu no di score any goal ya dis evening.” And we played for lemonade and soft drinks…

A: Oh, yaa; so unu had unu own competition…

S: Yaa, yaa. We seh, “We wahn kip unu out today.” And, look ya, man; it used to be war out deh (laughs)… And dat dah weh di guys dehn, like Mr. Haylock and Mr. Gerald Paget and, you know, those people who were involved with the sport… they liked to see that.

A: (laughs) From Rocking-R… Alright, and then you said… what happened with Rocking-R with the transition to Avengers? How did that happen?     

              

(To be continued)    

Amandala


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#432011 - 03/03/12 02:54 PM Re: A chat with footballer Gerald “Speedy” Henry [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

A: … what happened with Rocking-R with the transition to Avengers? How did that happen?                      

S: As I said, the company went out of business. And so, around that same time, we went to… we had the Inter-District competition going. So we… one of our games was with Toledo. And, if you recall, around that time you didn’t have any (Southern) highway, right? So we used to go to Mango Creek…

A: Overnight?

S: No. We would go there soon enough; and we caught a boat… We used to go by boat from Mango Creek to Toledo. And then we return the same way, catch our transport and come back home. And so, on this occasion, we did go. And, as I said, perhaps we might have felt that, “Well, all di time when we go deh, we beat P.G. bad.” So, I would say, we might have gone with the same feeling that, “Bwai, dis da lallypap again,” and so on. And dehn beat wi.

A: Yea? Dehn surprise unu?

S: Yaa, dehn put wahn lik pahn wi, man. And…

A: That was when the Gutierrez brothers step up? Tash and…

S: Tash..?? I don’t remember…

A: Genus?

S: Yea, Terence Genus; yaa. And they beat us! And, man, da ting deh… da ting deh knock wi to wi heart, you know. So, when we went back home, the following week we had a meeting. David Cruz used to be the manager.

A: For Rocking-R?

S: No, for Avengers, the Mighty Avengers… And so we went back…

A: So, you hadn’t formed Avengers yet…

S: No. We hadn’t formed it yet. Dah when we came back from Punta Gorda. After taking that licking there, we decided that, “Well, guess weh happen..,” you know. David Cruz was with us, and so we had the meeting; and David said, “Look, man, we neva like dat licking there…”

A: He was a manager with the team; but not a player, was he?

S: No, he was a manager; so…

A: Was he playing at any time?

S: No. No. Always in that technical position, you know. So, we sat down and we said, “Look, the only name we could come back with…” And I think he was the one who proposed it, because I don’t remember if at that time any… you know dehn had dehn comic books…

A: Oh, I see it now…

S: I think he was reading a book named “Avengers,” or something like that.

A: So, dat happen due to the P.G. game…

S: And from there on, well , you know, the rest is history…

A: Avengers, because unu had to get unu revenge.

S: Yaa, and we made a name for ourselves. Because, as I said, when we would come to MCC Grounds…man, i pack-up… pack, pack, pack… not even standing space...

A: The Avengers coming to town! I recall, the way the team presented themselves (full white, long sleeves). By that time you also had Timi Bedran…

S: Yea, we were joined by some of the younger players – Russel Waight, Timi Bedran, Turo Azueta, you know, all those guys; a boy Guerra from Benque, Tan Tan…

A: (Edward) “Thor” Middleton?

S: Thor came to us around that time. Because, if you remember too, there were a few of us who used to come and play here with “Di X” team, Diamond-A.

A: That must be 1972-73…

S: Yaa. Five or six of us used to come.

A: That was about how many years after Avengers started, when you all came to play a few games with Diamond-A? Avengers was around a couple years already?

S: Yaa. We were already established… and then we used to come and play, and then…

A: Did you win the Inter-District, with Avengers?

S: I think we did (win) one. I think one, because we represented Cayo as Avengers. Yaa, but after that, the Inter-District splattered out. There was no more Inter-District, and so on, and so… there were just, maybe, friendlies, that we used to do… and then… because remember, as Avengers, our rivals then was San Joaquin. San Joaquin was the team that, you know, gave us some…

A: So you feel like… So you had friendly matches with…

S: We played in the competition… because, remember, San Joaquin became a part of the Belize City Competition…

A: Avengers played in the City also…

S: Yaa, and so we played… and that was where the rivalry… normally, dah Avengers and San Joaquin!

A: I know that in ’69, San Joaquin won in 1969…

S: When they had Fred Martinez and Malanga (Locario Mayen), and, boy (laughs)… a mean, you know… Tino…

A: By that time on Avengers, you switched to…

S: Yaa, by that time now, I had switched to (play) sweeper. Yaa… I played the “Liborio”… because, remember, that was a…

A: A new formation…

S: Yaa, a new formation which came out… I think that Germany was the first one who started it, with…

A: With Beckenbauer…

S: Yea, Franz Beckenbauer… Yaa, so I played that.

A: Who was your standing back?

S: And then we had Tan Tan… we had a fellow who we used to call (“Lake”?), a tall, slim fellow… we used to have, on Rocking-R, we used to have also, remember… Rodney Neal? Rodney Neal, who… in the public service distinguished himself… he used to be the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture. Right? Rodney… a very nice player, very good player, a very solid player… right? So, all those guys, they contributed to what Avengers ended up to be, you know…

A: When did Avengers fold? When did the team stop playing?

S: I… I don’t remember… because, around that time… I know… I know ’77…

A: When did you stop playing?

S: I stopped playing in ’82… but I moved out from Cayo. I was transferred… because, all during that time, I was Clerk of Courts in Cayo; and that allowed me to stay in the area, and, you know, I also played my football. But then, in ’77 I was transferred to Corozal as District Officer. And, while there… well, you know… the good thing about football is that it provides you with certain friendships, that you don’t know when you will need it.

A: Yaa, wherever you go, there are…

S: Wherever you go, people know you, and they… and so, when I went to Corozal, not knowing anybody there… the guys who came and guided me were the Martinez brothers.

A: “Rummy” and Johnny?

S: Yaa, John Martinez and…

A: From La Victoria…

S: Yea, the La Victoria guys… well, they were the ones who made me feel welcome in Corozal.

A: Alright.

S: So, I did have a nice welcome… those guys would be… because I was up there by myself… because my wife was teaching in Cayo, so we couldn’t be up there together, no. Johnny was the one who…

A: So that was in ’82, you said?

S: No, ’77.

A: Okay, you went up there in ’77.

S: Yea, I went up there ’77; I left ’78; and then I went on to U.W.I. to do “Public Administration”… So, when I came back, I served for a while in… at the airport.

A: You played any ball at UWI?

S: When I was over there? Yes, you know, I remember… not competitive… because, you know, there is always inter-competition between the houses… I was on Taylor Hall… and then there were other halls like Orvin, Mary Seacole, which was all males… no, that was Chancellor, (Mary Seacole is all females). Well, my good friend here, Rodwell Williams, he was there at the time. He was studying economics; and, I remember one time when he came to me, and he said, “Bwai, I just gaan boast ‘bout you…”

A: (laughs)

S: You know, “to the Jamaicans,” you know, “dat I have wahn guy ya weh could play,” right?

A: (laughs) So, yo haf to show yoself now...         

S: (laughs) But, the bad part is… is this; that I am a very delicate person when it comes to food. And the food at the time there wasn’t gratifying at all, at all. And I da somebody weh no work out haad if I no di eat properly. So, he said to me, he said, “Bwai, but I done gaan… I done gaan boast,” you know.      

A: (laughs)

S: The thing is that, on arriving there… because, football da wahn big sport in Jamaica, very big, very big… and so, as you enter the hall, there would be… I would say… football enthusiasts there who di ask you, “Where are you from?” “Belize.” “Yo play any sports?” “Yes, a play football.” “Bwai! We have wahn footballer ya!”, you know. Dat da di kind a way how di…

A: (laughs) Yaa, yaa, dehn put you under pressure.

S: Yaa, so that… when it came to… because, you know, there are things like “ragging” weh go on there, right? And where I was concerned… when I said I play football… I didn’t get anything rough at all… I didn’t get anything rough for the initiation… I neva gaan through no rough ting at all, you know.

A: (laughs) Yaa, yo got “stripes”.

S: Yea. So… just to complete the one with Rodwell. Rodwell went and he said, “Bwai,” you know… so and so da di case… and game… and I said, “Bwai, a no wahn… a no di eat good, Rod.” So he said, “Man,” he said, “But I done gaan and say…” “So, anyway,” I said, “yo done gaan and…,” I said, “alright, a gweyn out… a gweyn out go play lee bit,” you know. And so, I did go out…

 

(To be continued) 

Amandala


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#432337 - 03/07/12 07:03 AM Re: A chat with footballer Gerald “Speedy” Henry [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

S: Yea. So… just to complete the one with Rodwell. Rodwell went and he said, “Bwai,” you know… so and so da di case… and game… and I said, “Bwai, a no wahn… a no di eat good, Rod.” So he said, “Man,” he said, “But I done gaan and say..” “So, anyway,” I said, “yo done gaan and…,” I said, “alright, a gweyn out… a gweyn out go play lee bit,” you know. And so, I did go out… And afterwards… afterwards, I think they recognized the, you know… perhaps, the talent that I had. To such an extent that, every free kick dehn wahn mek I kick… because di first one weh I kick, I scored… and then, on the other occasions I would set up my partners dem, and so on… because I decided I would play… they asked me weh position a waahn play… a tell dem ah waahn play midfield…

A: So yo (could) control tings.

S: Yea, so that was the way how I did it. And then afterwards, after game, dehn, you know… flock around, and dehn, you know… dehn ask me if a no waahn join team, and so on… A tell dem, “No, I… I no di eat good,” and so on… and, “A no like di food… a no get accustomed to di food yet.” So they said that they would, you know… “No worry,” dehn wehn gi mi supplement… food supplement,” and all kind a ting. A say, “No, I… a no into it.” But I never did go into it, you know, the way how I, you know…

A: Well, you de dah school, and…

S: Yaa… and you see, my concentration was more, trying to just complete my course, you know, and come back home.

But, when I came back, as I said, I worked at the airport. And then after that I went on to Ministry of Finance. And then, I was transferred to Toledo.

A: In the deep south.

S: Yaa, in Toledo. After I had been there for a few months, the Police came… the Police they came, and they said, “Look,” you know, they’d want me to help them, because dehn di try organize wahn lee, you know… wahn Police team… And so I ended up with players weh di kick ball fi di first time, you know…

A: (laughs Yaa.

S: But, the thing is that, it is discipline, you know… Weh I instill in them is that, look… somebody could… you know, sometimes… sometimes it’s better to deal with the person who is willing, rather than the person who is able…

A: Yaa, sometimes; because if yo no willing, we no wahn mek no headway.

S: Yaa, yo understand? So… so, they were willing… and we come out and we work out… and, you know, we work out in the morning, and… and then, one time, they… I don’t remember how they called themselves… but, the Toledo… Toledo Eleven, or something like that… because we had a guy, Saunders, who used to work by the D.O.’s office there, who was involved with the team…

A: It wasn’t Toledo Invaders, no?

S: ..Toledo “something”… but… but they were the number one team in Toledo at the time. I think they had the Gutierrez brothers… I’m not sure, I think so… but I know Genus was there, was part of it… But the guys they came, and they challenged us… they challenged our captain; and the guy, the policeman who was the captain… and he, he felt so good about himself, he accepted the challenge. Because the guys dehn from the other team she, “Man, we see you di go out by di field deh every maanin; unu di go out deh, and unu di work out, and… but we no know weh unu got een,” and, you know, dehn kind a way…

And eventually they did… eventually, the guy went and he “sign up” wahn, you know, wahn verbal… i agree with the other team that we will… we will have a game… and after hihn done do it, i come and i tell me. A seh, “Well, unu haf to do some extra work out,” you know. And we did… we did. I played midfield fi dehn. I played the midfield so I could feed, you know… and we end up drawing. 

Afterwards, you know, dehn follow dehn… dehn used to di follow di policeman dehn when dehn see dehn, you know… cause all a we da mi just friends, you know… and dehn di ask, “How unu mi do it?” and, you know… because dehn mi tink dehn mi wahn walk over we, you know…

But those are… so that’s the history, as I said, behind it. I went back to Cayo in 1980 as District Officer there, and…

A: That’s around the time when they were just approaching FIFA to get membership, near to Independence in 1981.

S: Yea, so I went back, and I was there until ’82, when the post of District Officer was abolished. And so I was transferred to Belmopan; specifically, I was transferred to Establishment Department, which is now the Public Service Ministry. And they had a Training Unit within that department, and so, I filled the post as Training Officer                

( to be continued in the next issue)           

Amandala


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#432607 - 03/10/12 02:32 PM Re: A chat with footballer Gerald “Speedy” Henry [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

S: Yea, so I went back, and I was there until ’82, when the post of District Officer was abolished. And so I was transferred to Belmopan; specifically, I was transferred to Establishment Department, which is now the Public Service Ministry. And they had a Training Unit within that department, and so, I filled the post as Training Officer. Then, as Training Officer, in 1985 I was identified to take up the position of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Housing. I served from ’85 to ’87 at the Ministry of Housing…no, ’85… and then around ’86, ’86 Works and Transport were amalgamated… And so it became the Ministry of Works and Transport; and I served there until ’87. And then, ’87 I was transferred to Establishment Department; only, this time I was transferred there in the capacity as Permanent Secretary. So, I stayed there from ’87 to ’90. And then in 1990, I was sent back to the Ministry of Works. And that’s where I spent the rest of my public service career – 13 years as Permanent Secretary/C.E.O., Ministry of Works and Transport, Ministry of…

A: Until 2003, when you retired..

S: Yes.

A: And, during that period of time, during those years after you came back from U.W.I., and you’ve been transferred here and there, as you said, with the Police team for a while, and you stopped playing actively… about what time?

S: I stopped playing in 1982, you know. That’s when I stopped playing active football. Not because I didn’t have the capacity to play on; because, as I said, I had always kept in shape.

A: You still did your little running…

S: Yaa, I still keep eena shape… in the evenings, you could still find me out… I don’t run on the highway as I used to do…

A: Di highway di get kinda dangerous nowadays.

S: It’s very dangerous there, you know; so I… as I said, I live on a ten-acre plot. So, the whole of my… the front part of it… I have enough space from the driveway and the houses, situated more on the back; so all that front area that I have from the gate to the house, I use that to exercise.

A: You’ve been going to the games… you’ve been observing the development of the sport, the game, over the years since…

S: As I said, I would go and, you know… from the gate just to maybe the fence there, the first friends weh a meet, and stand up there and watch the game… and at the same time, friends that are with me, I would explain to them what I see wrong… you know… and then, over a time I would go… and… I can’t handle… I can’t handle that… looking at our players being take… I’d say being taken advantage of… because, when the… you know, like, sometimes.. as I said, I did a lot of defence… and one of the things that I learned over that period of time, that, never, never… if you are a defence, never be… all a you must never be eena di same line.

A: Mmmhmm.

S: Right? There must be a…

A: Wahn next man fi pick up di pieces..

S: So that you could sweep. Because, with Avengers, as I said, I used to play Liborio. And when I go after somebody… and then the other thing that we used to do… we used to use the qualities that we have… use it against the other players who no have it. And one of the things that they, that some of them didn’t have… was, they neva have speed.

A: Okay; and you have that.

S: Well, no only me; but we used to have three guys to the back…

A: How you got that name, “Speedy”? You musti mi fast..

S: No, dah not’n fi do wid football. It was more… growing up, we had to go to the river fi water, you understand? We had to back… yo know, no water system (then in Cayo), so we had to go da river go back wi water. And then, we used to move… mi bredda and myself, we used to move with such quickness… because we used to fill drums fi other people too… right? And then, there was this young lady, Burns, who drop da nickname pahn me (laughs). And, of course, as I said, we had it… apparently, that was inside… it was internal, not only for that, but also… because my brother was a sprinter…

A: He was a champion… But I recall when… I think it was Amateur Sporting Club (or Diamond-A?) playing against Avengers in Cayo, and my brother was a runner too… and there was a challenge between him and Speedy (laughs).

S: (laughs) Yaa, Michael… Michael, yaa… very close friend of mine, very nice guy… you know, so dah like dat. We used to play teams at midfield; because, our thing was that, before you reach our goalkeeper, somebody must ketch you… one a di rabbit wahn ketch you. You remember Tan Tan?.... Big, tall, young fellow with all the…

A: He is one of the guys that used to come to play with Diamond-A. 

S: Yaa, man… so that was the way how we ended up… my football career ended. It wasn’t because I… as I said, because I wasn’t able to continue; but, you know, there was a new breed of football players coming up in Cayo too. And one… I remember one time when we went to play a game in Orange Walk, and… I think da when People’s Stadium open, and I went with some guys, younger guys, and so on… and, man, when I di come back, I kyan put mi head inside,… because di guys dehn mi di… And I say, no… dis da no fi me, men. So, di whole journey I come wid mi head, like, you know… di stand up and got mi head out through wahn window, you know. I couldn’t handle it.

A: Di smoking and drinking?

S: No, I couldn’t handle it, because I… I don’t smoke; a no drink…

A: On your Avengers team, a couple of your players smoked?

S: Yaa, man. Some of them drink too. Yea, we used to have some of the guys weh used to drink… but at the same time, they know that if dehn… if dehn no work out, that there was always somebody to take their place…

A: Mmmhm. Who was the coach of Avengers?

S: We neva got, you know.

A: No?

S: We neva got… we… we had… as I said, David Cruz used to… manage

A: Hihn da manager…

S: And do, like, you know… you know, sometimes, coaching, but no really di… you know… di coaching that we would… we would…

A: Unu da di leadership of the team, the captain…

S: Yaa, you know… there were, like, five of us who used to be responsible for making sure the team does what it needs to do… right? We went to Honduras, and we played in Puerto Cortez… We played Congolong and Platence.

A: How unu fare off?

S: We had two games… one, the Platence team beat us 3-1, after they had just left from here… months before and beat em…

A: San Joaquin (1969 champions).

S: Yaa… and beat wi bad.

A: 9-nil they beat San Joaquin.

S: Yaa, beat wi bad… and, we didn’t know… in fact, we didn’t know what we were… which teams we would have been facing when we got there… It was when the gentleman picked us up at the airport… because the game… this travel was being arranged by… through Hector Silva.

A: Okay, he must have been Minister of Sports?

S: Yea, he was involved with Government at the time. And he was also the area representative for Cayo… for Cayo North… and so he arranged it. But it looked like this thing neva wahn come through… suddenly, when yo hear, di ting di come through. Well, we were so glad to, you know…

A: Travelling..

S: You know, playing internationally; so we no di worry bout who wi wahn play. When we get deh, den wi wahn…

A: You remember where the game was played? Was it in Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Sula?

S: No, in Puerto Cortez.

A: Okay. In Tegucigalpa the altitude would have been a big factor.

S: No, no; Puerto Cortez. And it was when we got there, we realized… well, what would be the teams… da who we wahn play. And dehn boy start to tremble… because dehn say, well… remember dat di team mi just come from ya, and wallop wi champ, you know.

A: They had (young) Porfirio Betancourt with them at that time.

S: Yaa; yaa, man… I remember the man… you know. And I… then they used to have a Colombian guy who played midfield, a number 10… because when they played here, he played limited time… in the first game… because I came to see the game. He played limited time… and then the following game, when he played… when they had him on again… but, man, dat guy da mi wahn terror pahn wi… a Colombian named… Piedraitas, I think. And so, we had to face him in Honduras…

  

But, the problem with our football at that time, and still now, is that we don’t play enough blackboard football… you know; because…

A: Yo haf to plan yo strategy..

S: Yaa, you have to plan your strategy. There are only two ways of making a pass. Either you will pass it direct to the man; or, yo see the opening, yo push it through, and di man move… di man know dat, guess what… once da opening di deh, the possibility is dat mi partner wahn push it through; because you practice those things… you understand mi… so, da no no rocket science at all behind this ting… dis ting da just… you know…

A: So, you all played two games in Honduras. Who was the next team?

S: We played a selection.

A: Oooh! What?

S: We played a selection out of Puerto Cortez; and we drew 2-2. But, as I said, it is the finer things of this game that we have not been able to grasp, because we no have no proper coaching.  

( to be continued in the next issue)                

Amandala


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#433235 - 03/17/12 02:10 PM Re: A chat with footballer Gerald “Speedy” Henry [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

S: We played a selection out of Puerto Cortez; and we drew 2-2. But, as I said, it is the finer things of this game that we have not been able to grasp, because we no have no proper coaching. 

We no have nobody who sits down and, like we deh da school… and we look pahn wahn blackboard, and we say, “Bwai, dis da di way how tings when show… if you see wahn opening, yo wahn push it through; rather than give yo partner wahn direct pass, yo wahn push it through, and hihn know dat hihn fi move…

A: Yaa, no telegraph pass… Da next level a di game, we no reach it yet..

S: We no reach it yet..

A: We did reach a level in the ‘90’s, if you recall, when Belize teams, in CONCACAF, did well against, Alajuela, I think it was, from Costa Rica; and also in Honduras, we had Revolutionary Conquerors, who, I think, had Platence in big trouble. But, football began to take a decline… and wi teams (began) to not be competitive for quite a while…

S: So, this is the… for this and other reasons why I… I said, you know… I will make an attempt to get involved, you know, I…

A: But, tell me about that. The feedback I got when your name cropped up, in my mind, at least, and I consulted a few people, and they told me that, “Bwai, Speedy… we talk to da man… and, i kinda reluctant… i say i wahn tink bout it,” and…

S: Yes… yes, because, weh happen is that… if you remember, I had just completed that Commission of Inquiry along with my other two colleagues, Oswald Twist and Joe McGann. And so, I didn’t want anybody to feel that, guess weh happen… you know, because I was a part of that now, I want to come now like… like wahn savior, and so on, you know?

A: But it did push you into the inner workings of what is happening in football…

S: It gave me an insight into what is happening right now with football… and I could say where… where it is not being handled properly. Because, even if we were looking at, let’s say.. the lower level of where the game is played… like at the Mundialito level, you know… when you look at it, even if that is our standing point, and maybe that is not… with that, it shows you talent from an early age; and all you need to now do is to nurture that talent, you know… But, what happen is that, after that is finished, there is nothing that… (is) organized to such an extent that these players who are interested… because you will not (have) a hundred percent of them moving on playing football… some of them might branch off into other sports. But, you no wahn get that “cream of the crop” moving on, if yo no have wahn program fi them, you know… So, yo haf to establish wahn program…

And that is the reason why, I said, guess weh happen, you know, I know how di game… di level dat we haf to reach, you understand? And when I look at countries that have progressed, you know… over the years… I say, man, why is it that we can’t reach that level? There’s nothing wrong; we’re all humans together. So, why is it so different for us to reach that? And then you find other countries… they reach that level, you know… where they become so competitive. Why can’t that… why that can’t include Belize? Why? Yo understand me? I look at the female football… and I look at the great U.S. female soccer team, you know… because of the time when they came in, and they started learning the sport the proper way… they governed that female football for some time, you know. They are still a group to be reckoned with.

A: Dehn (the others) di ketch up wid dehn slowly.

S: But, di other teams dehn ketch up, mi friend… that’s why Japan… Japan was able to… you understand me? And, you watch some a di other teams dehn, you know? So, the thing is that, to me, what is needed is that support. Because, you look at Brazil… from the male side, they are still a team to be reckoned with… from the female side, though they have the great Marta with them… but, they’re not such a dominant (team) like one time, you understand? Look at…

A: Well, FIFA is putting inputs to get the other countries to catch up.

S: Look at the African League…

A: Again.

S: You know weh a mean? Years ago, they were… now, we di have players, you know, coming out of Africa, joining the English League, joining the Spanish League; they’re all around…

A: But just the other day, Panama was considered one of the… the term they used was “whipping boys,” along with Belize and Nicaragua… Panama stepped up, and now… they are one of the big boys….

S: They have a program. They have a program, because you must never be satisfied with where you are, you understand me? And more so if you… out of a hundred and forty-five countries, you deh da one forty-three. You need to start to step up, you know? Gradually, gradually, you know… Yo start to practice pahn di lighter boys dehn, weh you think, yo know, weh you think yo might be on par wid dehn…

A: The Commission. I read the Commission report… that you served on, no? And, like you said, you’ve been going to games off and on over the years… you have some youngsters involved with the game too; you told me you have some…

S: Yaa, I have two grandchildren. And I take them to games… one of them is eleven. I have another boy who is fifteen, but he no… one a dehn play it… di lee eleven-year-old play competition at his level. But, you know… yo still haf to… like… a show dehn dat, guess weh happen… da wahn nice sport fi play… because dehn da tink dat… because, you know, because dehn no feel like dehn di get da support dehn da wahn tend fi, you know, fi no put een dehn all. And I said to di lee eleven-year-old, dat, man, if yo like dis sport, den yo must go fi di top. Yo kyan just go half way and… no, yo haf to go, you know? And so, as a result a dat, when I said, alright… but, as I said, I have always been… I go way da P.G. go watch game… I go there… I have mi son weh ref… Junior ref..

A: Yaa, a know…

S: Yo understand mi? So… and I would always… I mean, sometimes when hihn go pan di field… I used to, you know… I tell ahn, boy, look… dis da di way yo must, you know… be as fair as possible… yo kyan please everybody, but you know di rules a di game… then apply the rules… Don’t be too rash to haul out cards and flash it, you know? Because, sometimes that might be the difference between winning and losing for the teams, you know weh a mean… But, you no wahn just allow dem to do what dehn want… but at the same time, you haf to…

A: Mek di game play…

S: Yea, you haf to measure di game, and see di level at which i di play… and then yo, yo know weh a mean… so… a still involved eena da way, you know. And, as I said, I go to games, but I no go… because I’ve not been anybody who… I have always been low profile. A lot of people would never know that I served in the Government service, and so on… because one of the things I have promised myself… that I… yo no wahn see no photographs weh I tek wid any Minister…

A: Maybe dat da why I neva did know… I mi surprise when dehn tell me… when I inquire, and then the guy tell me… because I… after reading the Commission report, it just struck me… the section where certain points were made and recommendations given as to how the district associations should be supported by the FFB, financially and otherwise… and to me, the vision was clear. And I said to myself, now, all I know of Speedy Henry is what I know from when I met him on the field, played against him, and saw him conduct himself, and this report… The man is still around… and I’m impressed by this report… I said, if we have any doubt about the sincerity of somebody who loves this sport, and who knows the sport, and who is good at the sport, I mean… I wonder if he would accept… if we asked him to serve… I said… it just struck me… and so I called one of the fellows that I am in touch with in Belmopan; that is Mr. Pena…

S: That’s Luis.

A: Yes, and I suggested it to him. And then he told me that they had asked you already… That’s what caught me off guard…

S: Yaa, yaa; i mi come…

A: He said, “But he was reluctant,”… he said, “but maybe if you talk to ahn.” I said, “But I no know Speedy that close, yo know. I no really… mi other bredda dehn more..”

S: (laughs) Yea, di X da mi…. and Michael… dehn da mi buddies…

A: So he said, “Well, tell ahn… you go talk to ahn.” I said, “Well, tell di man I seh fi ask ahn, yo know, fi tink bout it,” and so on..

S: As I said… you know, I neva wahn, like, on the first ballot, I just jump up and say, “Oh yes, bwai,” you know… I no wahn anybody feel like I was, somewhat, President in waiting, you know weh a mean?... I did… the Minister asked me to be a part of it (the Commission). I did that weh he asked me… you know, and that’s it. I gaan back to mi…

(FFB Executive elections are slated for Thursday night, March 15; so, by the time the paper hits the streets on Friday morning, the verdict should already be in on who will be FFB President for the next four years. Hopefully, if not as President, Mr. Gerald “Speedy” Henry can still contribute in some other meaningful capacity to the building of our football program in Belize.)  

(To be continued)  

Amandala


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#433620 - 03/21/12 01:51 PM Re: A chat with footballer Gerald “Speedy” Henry [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

(FFB Executive elections were held last Thursday night, March 15. Speedy lost his bid for the presidency to another accomplished veteran of the sport, Ruperto Vicente, the new FFB President, who is joined by new Senior Vice-President Sergio Chuc, a member of his slate. A member of Speedy’s slate, Rawell Pelayo, is the new 2nd Vice President; and the two other new Executive Members, Cruz Gamez and Marlon Kuylen, were also members of Speedy’s slate of candidates. Hopefully, Speedy and the other members who offered themselves as candidates, but were unsuccessful, will be called upon to fill posts on the many dormant FFB committees.)  

A: How difficult was it? (The Inquiry Commission report) The report took much longer than anticipated, and we were hoping it would come out… to get the ball rolling before the FIFA World Cup (qualifiers) got under way and all that, you know.

S: But there were circumstances that prevented us from completing it. Remember that Joe McGann, who was the chairman, he worked with Climate Change; and there were times when he would be out of the country for days upon days. And then… so what we decided to do was to devise a strategy, where myself and Oswald (attorney Oswald Twist) would move, even though the chairman was not there; but one of us would take over, take turns trying to interview people. And so, that was the way how we did it, because we wanted to touch base…

A: So you travelled the country?

S: Yaa, countrywide. We came to Belize City here, and we had interviews and… but, it was always, trying to get out… and then, Oswald is an attorney, so he…

A: So he was busy too..

S: He had his days when he...

A: Had to go to court, no?

S: Yaa… but we did devise a strategy where, when we went to Punta Gorda, on our way back, we tried to capture Dangriga, you know. So, on occasions we would be out in the district there till… sometimes we got back late. But, eventually, the report did come out, and we…

A: It was a clincher, I think, because the report really revealed a lot of things that corroborated a lot of hearsay and suspicion and allegations, you know?

S: Yes… When I looked at the report, it also helped me to put together some of the things that I feel can be done in order to bring a little bit to the game… a little to those who are responsible… people like associations… so, what we did was, we put together a (manifesto), as it were, to create change; and we said, “The Future Is Now.”      

I have this (lifts up a bound booklet). This is actually the executive summary… an executive summary of our plan, the wider plan… 

(Speedy then elaborated a bit on his slate’s plan for football development. The election is now history, but the ideas and strategies laid down in his “The Future Is Now” plan could still be a useful tool as the new executive, led by Ruperto Vicente, works on devising its Strategic Plan for football.       

After a lengthy discourse about the details of his plan, we tried to conclude our discussion/interview, a sometimes difficult task when two football friends get to talking ‘ball.)

A: Speedy, I have to ask you a hard question. It’s a question that I don’t want you to feel offended by. But this generation of young people, and the times they live in, they think so differently about things, and they have good reason to… some of them will say, “Well, hmmm… what is in it for Speedy?” What is in it for you, to want to accept this challenge… what do you want out of this?

S:  As I said, I looked at it, and after thinking about it, I said, all these and more, what I have mentioned there (in the booklet). Where I am concerned, all I want is to set a proper foundation that we can follow. For instance, for the past so many years - how many is it, 14 years? - nobody knows what happened with the resources of the (FFB)… As I said earlier, that every year we will have our annual report, where we share what has been done with the funds available. It is more to bring some structure to the FFB. That is my goal; to bring some structure to it. Right? Because right now things are haphazard. Nobody knows anything; nobody knows anything at all. And some of them, they’re so happy to be a part of the FFB, that they don’t ask any questions, for fear of being ostracized. Right? I don’t want that, you know. I want people to question me. I want to avail myself; that if somebody has some kind of question to ask, that they ask me. In fact, I want it to be that they ask me after I have made a report. That even before they ask me, that they can question me, and perhaps the financial report, which is sent out, you know, which is put there; because…

A: I heard you were on Plus TV the other night…

S: Yaa.. I did it on Monday night, with Garbutt, you know… because, all of this… What can FIFA do for us? A lot. Right? What can the media do for us? Because we cannot isolate ourselves from the media. That is one way we can disseminate information, my friend. That is the way how things are done. If we are doing things the proper way, there is nothing, no reason why we should hide. You understand? Why should we hide from the media? Because I’ll tell you what, my experience with the media… and I have said this to my people when I was working (at the Ministry)… and when the media would buzz about anything… I said to them, “Look,” - this was our saying at Ministry of Works – “if there is something that you do not like about the Ministry, please tell me. If there is something you like about the Ministry, tell others.

A: (laughs) Okay, I get you.

S: You understand me? And it is the same thing with this, you know? You don’t like something about how the FFB, or some matter comes up that you feel needs some clarification? Please, contact me; contact us. You understand me? But at the same time, through the media we can also get a lot of things done. Because the media is there to disseminate all the information, reach the people, and through that medium there is so much that can be accomplished. You understand me?

So, I don’t really, I’m not in it for anything. Some people say, “Oh, because you…”, I remember on the program on Monday, somebody said, “Look, you worked at the Commission of Inquiry, and so, as a result of that, you see money in there, and that is the reason why you…” My friend, look here… That is one thing… my children or my wife… I don’t owe anything on the land that I bought, the ten acres…                                            

(When I spoke to Speedy by phone this morning, Monday, March 19, he was comfortably back at home with his wife of 31 years, Barbara, at their home/resort outside of San Ignacio, where they sometimes rent accommodations for private events like weddings, etc.)

Amandala


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