FFB: The New Face Of Football
Viewers may remember vividly how the country's National A Football Team, the Jaguars, qualified for the Gold Cup in 2013. It was a first for Belize, and a triumph for the Ruperto Victente Administration of the Football Federation of Belize which was determined to show that they were managing football properly.
Since then, poor performances have killed the hype, and the hope in the Vicente administration has also ebbed. It hit rock bottom when the team came in last in the 2014 UNCAF Copa Centroamericana - or Nations Cup.
Well, the FFB is determined to get it right for the first round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Belize plays against the Cayman Islands on March 25, and this new National Team Selection has been practicing as a team since November of last year.
The full National Team has since been selected, and according to the FFB, it is a younger, more cohesive selection which will allow football at this level to develop. The Federation invited the media today for a meet and greet session with the new team, and 7News was there. We saw quite a number of new faces, but also some familiar ones. Here's what they had to tell us today.
Woodrow West - Member, National Team
"We return from November last year and yes, it's just two time for the week, but we still work a lot, because it's what we were asking from years ago to try get prepared months before our tournaments. Its helping and the tournaments is going on as well, so the players are active both on the national team and the league as well. It's a good start for us and we are training hard and try pushing our best to get where we need to be in the World Cup elimination."
"Talk to us about the level of drills, the high intensity drills that you all do. What exactly is the focus of the team right now, in order to play at that high level?"
Woodrow West - Member, National Team
"We have our physical trainer who is well prepared. He's been studying in Cuba and he went and lately come from Germany, so he is up to date with all those physical training and he is trying to help us getting there. And playing in the league, we are still in condition. What we are trying to do is work a little bit of physical and get the system acquainted with all the player, so that we could do a good show home and score some goals, because as you know that's our problem here - scoring goals. That is one of the weakness we are working now to get offensive minded and try to get some goals home."
Najib Guerra - Member, National Team
"When I was called, I was happy. I can't say no. It's a great privilege to represent my country and better yet, it's a home game and so we have to represent. About the senior players and us the rookies, well, they are motivating us - always telling us to big up our game, do not get discourage if we don't get pick, but once you make it, just play and represent your country."
Tevin Gamboa - Member, National Team
"I feel so good, because this is my first time coming with the A selection team of Belize and working with Woodrow West and other people. It's like a dream come true, because I always dreamt of playing with the national team. But I have to wait my turn because Woodrow West is the number one goal keeper here and I just have to do my thing along with him."
The full 30 members of the team will be posted on our website, since it is quite a lot to list off at this time.
- 1. Rai West
- 2. Woodrow West
- 3. Jerome James
- 4. Jarrett Davis
- 5. Ian Gaynair
- 6. Denmark Casey
- 7. Norman Anderson
- 8. Randy Padilla
Stann Creek District
- 9. Trevor Lennen
- 10. Marlon Meza
- 11. Jermain Jones
- 12. Najib Guerra
- 13. David Trapp
- 14. Andres Makin
- 15. Devon Makin
- 16. Amin August
- 17. Daniel Jimenez
- 18. Khalil Velasquez
- 19. Byron Chavez
- 20. Elroy Kuylen
- 21. Tyrone Pandy
- 22. Harrison Roches
- 23. Highking Roberts
- 24. Tevin Gamboa
- 25. Dalton Eiley
- 26. Marvin Centeno
- 27. Jordi Polanco
- 28. Delone Torres
- 29. Kyle Flowers
- 30. Elroy Smith
- 31. Shane Orio
A Change Of Mood and Mind For National Team CoachesAnd the man who will is leading the team as Head coach is Jorge Nunez, a native of Brazil who has been around Belizean football as a coach for over 25 years. He's has coached some of the biggest names in football, and today, he told us why he wants your support to lead the Jaguars into these World Cup qualifiers:
Jorge Nunez - Head Coach, National Team
"I played football with Juventus. I play football in Central America, I play football in my country, Brazil, professional. I have had training, I have received my certification from FIFA and I did my training in Guatemala, so I am certified to coach in any part of the world."
And as you may have noticed from our footage, Charlie Slusher is back at the FFB as the Assistant Head Coach of the National Team. Now, the last time we spoke with Slusher, which was about 2 years ago, it appeared that he and President Ruperto Vicente had major differenced of opinion about what's best for the National Team. Slusher exited on less than amiable terms, and so today, we asked both men how they were able to mend fences. Here's what they had to say:
Ruperto Vicente - President, FFB
"Football is a dynamic sports and football is played on the football field, two teams playing against each other. Similar in an administration, there are going to be differences and I have always said to you the media, that yes, there was a difficulty between the federation and Charlie Slusher, but as the President of the federation, I would never close the door on a Belizean coach, because we want that our Belizean coach be developed and take full control of our national teams. We believe that we have coaches like Charlie Slusher and other players who have played the game, have great potential in leading our national teams and I believe that I have done all my best to bring Charlie Slusher back into our camp. He is a Belizean, he plays football, he has been trained as a coach and there is no way as the president of the federation, I will allow a Belizean coach who have played football to be left outside of the federation."
Charlie Slusher - Assistant Head Coach, National Team
"Myself and Mr. Vicente, the president, we want to achieve the same goal. So, as long as our intention is to make football become successful in the country, it was easy. It wasn't a difficult thing. I want to do my best. The president want to do his best, so it wasn't a difficult decision for anyone of us to make, because we want to make Belizean football successful. And the president has always said on the media that whenever Charlie Slusher is ready to come back, he will welcome me back and it shows today that he is a man of his word."
And the National Team Coordinator is Police Minister John Saldivar, who is also the owner of the Belmopan Bandits football Team. Now, if viewers can recall, Saldivar was instrumental in ending the Bertie Chimilio regime while he was Minister of Sports. Also, a portion of the National A Selection are players from his Belmopan Bandits Football Club, so we asked today, if he has any hidden self-interests to promote while holding such an important post within the FFB. Here's how he answered that question:
Hon. John Saldivar - National Team Coordinator
"A very loaded question, but first of all, I'd like to refer back to what both president and Charlie Slusher has said, I share their view that my interest in being here is so that my country can win and if you have that as your interest, there is no place for self-interest. There is no place for personality and personal interest and I can assure the Belizean public that in conducting my functions as the national team coordinator, there are no hidden agendas with respect to the Belmopan Bandits players. As has been alluded earlier by Mr. Kuylen, we opened training in November, we took deliberate steps to inform the public and players that training was open to all and all who attended got a fair chance from the coaching staff. Got the coaching staff to see them and can be attested to by both the coaching staff and players who were at training, I have never at any time try to intervene, interfere or put any personal biases into that selection process. The coaching staff has been entirely the group that has decided on the members of the national team. If it happens that a significant amount of Bandits' players are there, is because we are the 3-peat champions and we do have the majority of good players in this country."