The legendary Belizean broadcast journalist and sportcaster, Manfred Atkins.
by Bilal Morris
This is the early 1970s in Belize and Belizeans at evening times would be glued to the radio listening to Manfred Atkins bring the action packed and popular radio broadcast he called, "Sports Report". It had reports of every sport Belizean athletes were playing in those days, and it was delivered in a most unique style that only Atkins could present. It was fresh off the field, well written, and powerfully reported. It was imaginary television, and we can still see these legendary Belizean athletes play through that voice that once made Belize great as a sporting powerhouse in the Caribbean and Central America.
Manfred Atkins disappeared from the minds of many of us Belizeans almost 50 years ago now. But he will never be forgotten for the sport entertainment that he provided to many Belizean homes that wouldn't even realize the coming of television to Belize in the 1980s. We can still hear the music to his signature tune of his show playing in our heads at the break of evening as he gave us the daily and weekly Belize sports wrap across the country in half of an hour. Atkins became Belize's most celebrated sportscaster in the 1960s and 70s. A graduate of the academically acclaimed St. Michaels College, he carved out a career as a radio broadcaster while working as a civil servant in the Belize Income Tax Department in the 1960s and 70s.
His most accomplished broadcasting feat came when he served as chairman for twelve years of Belize Softball Federation that also took him in the capacity of Belize's broadcaster that would make history in reporting back to Belize through Radio Belize, the historical softball gold medal game in Santa Domingo in 1974 at the Central American & Caribbean Games. Belizean softball women won Belize's first ever gold medal for Belize at that time, and it was through Atkins' broadcasts that Belizeans at home were able to know of that incredible victory brought about by the national selection of Belize's Softball Team. Belize beat Puerto Rico in the finals to clench the gold medal title as Central America and the Caribbean greatest softball team during that period.
Atkins also continued to represent Belize and bring Belizeans sport reports on the Belize national softball team second gold medal victory in the Juvenile Games in Mexico City in 1978, as well as the VIII Pan American Games in Puerto Rico in 1979 where the Belize National Softball Team defeated the United States Orlando Rebels 2-1 and went on to win the Bronze Medal. Belizean softball will always remember this legendary Belizean broadcast journalist who documented through these sport reports Belize's greatness in the sport of softball that made it a dominant and world class player in the game. A devout family man, Atkins migrated to the United States with his family in 1982 and continued to support sports in Belize by donating sporting equipment and memorabilia to the youths of Belize.
After passing away on October 23, 2004 at the age of 67, Atkins' family continue his annual donation to sports in Belize in his memory. "Manfred love life. He was a calm, mild mannered, humble, and peaceful man," stated the written words in his obituary. "He was always there to lend a helping hand...and he selflessly gave his time and energy." My passion for sports and broadcasting grew as a boy listening to Manfred Atkins' "Sports Report", and becoming a big fan of this outstanding Belizean character who created a theater of the mind for us youths to emulate through radio in the 70s. His every word uttered through the airwaves on Radio Belize drew my attention, and it was my dream and passion to one day embody his life in the field of broadcasting. You live on in those like me Manfred Atkins, though we had never met. But your positive example through your work for Belize and the Belizean people is a constant companion in the spirit of all you have touched. (Photos and information on Manfred Atkins comes through the kind courtesy of Debbie & Karen Atkins)