Belize Minister John Saldivar and his Government should be commended for standing up for Football in Belize

Written by Wellington C. Ramos

As a former national football player in Belize who is passionate about this sport, I would like to take this opportunity to commend the former Minister of Sport and now the Minister for National Security Honorable John Saldivar and his Government for the stand they took against the Football Federation of Belize (F.F.B.) to reform the league and make sure that there is accountability and transparency in the election of the league’s officers.

For almost fourteen years now, this league has been under the control of one President, Bertie Chimillio. The quality of football has not improved compared to the good old days and Belize has not advanced to the World Cup to compete among other countries in the world. Yet, the league’s President insisted that he was doing his best and it would only be a matter of time before our country accomplished its goals and objectives while the Belize people were becoming impatient.

Despite calls from some football players - present and past - that the President be removed and be replaced by an able and capable administrator, all those calls fell to deaf ears. The President even said that FIFA is an association by itself and their problems must be resolved under the rules and regulation made by them. It got to the point where the Belize Governments both PUP and UDP, were afraid to challenge the president of the league to explain the reasons for the lack of productivity over the years. FIFA even threatened the Belize government to expel Belize from the organization if they continued to meddle into the affairs of the organization.

The Government of Belize was not meddling but the public was demanding that they do something about the sad state of affairs when it came to football in their country and they were forced to act. Eventually, FIFA agreed to listen to the concerns of the Belize government and sent representatives to Belize to hear the complaints and concerns of all the various stakeholders, who are involved with football in the country. In the end, elections were supervised by officials from FIFA and the National Sports Council, which brought about new officers and a new president.

Since the election of the new president Ruperto Vicente, I have been listening to some of the new initiatives he is planning to address over Love FM. He spoke about children and women’s football training camps but I am hoping that he is going to include Elementary, High School, College training and competition tournaments to improve the skills of those players from where the Belize National Football Selection will come from. Also, a national Hall of Fame to honor our heroes who played the sport over the years should be considered.

Belizeans at home and abroad, who have interest in this sport, are watching the actions taken by the new president and they are hoping for the best. A couple of weeks ago there was a news report that funds were missing from the league’s account. Well, that is something that could be rectified if the new president asks an accountant to do an audit of the association’s finances. Plus, FIFA, as a credible organization ,has all the instruments in place to conduct their own investigations about how their monies are spent by their personnel. The government of Belize must continue to monitor the progress of this association. There is a new Minister of Sports, Herman Longsworth, and I hope that he brings the same passion to sports as that his predecessor Honorable John Saldivar had. I now call on all former and current football players to become more active and vocal in expressing their thoughts and views on what they would like to see our country accomplish in this great sport of football.

The Guardian