COMMENTARY: The expulsion of Belize from CONCACAF is humiliating to our football players and country
Published on Saturday, May 16, 2009
By Wellington C Ramos
As a former national football player in Belize and a coach here in the United States, I find it humiliating that my country was expelled from CONCACAF due to the negligence of some members of Government and the FFB, which is the Football Federation of Belize under the leadership of Doctor Bertie Chimilio.
In our Government’s cabinet there is a Minister of Sports who should be responsible for all sporting activities in the country. Under the previous government, they reshuffled their cabinet so many times that it is hard for me to tell who was the last Minister of Sports during their reign. The only one I remember was Cordel Hyde.
The United Democratic Party just recently took away the portfolio of sports from Marcel Cardona and gave it to Elvin Penner. Why he was demoted I do not know, but it could be that his overall negligence in dealing with his portfolios triggered his expulsion from the cabinet.
I am tired of hearing about Doctor Bertie Chimilio, whose name is circulated in the press whenever there is a problem with football in Belize, because nobody elected or appointed him to be more powerful than the Minister of Sports when it comes to all sporting activities in Belize. If Doctor Chimilio is the problem and they find him to be incompetent to let football grow and bring Belize to the point where we can compete internationally with other countries, then he must be removed from that office. He cannot be bigger than the sport and the players who sacrifice themselves to play this sport.
I know Doctor Chimilio personally because I grew up with him in Dangriga Town and played against him when he played for Holy Ghost School. During that time, I was playing for Sacred Heart School along with Garincha and Brazilian, Camal, Johnny Cool Pinnnacles, Bullet Bob and others, and we won back to back championships.
If the country of Belize cannot find another person to run football in Belize, then we have a serious problem. Our country needs somebody in the Ministry of Sports with a Masters degree in Sports Science. That person will possess the knowledge of almost all sports and will be capable to do long term planning for all sports in Belize.
A good plan would be to assign a Physical Education Teacher in all the Elementary, High Schools and Colleges throughout the country. Have competitions between these schools in all different types of sports seasonally and let them compete for the championship at the District and National levels. In all sports, Belize need to start to develop a sports club system that will teach young children from the time they are about seven years old to play various sports and become future national and professional players in their respective sports. The children are our future in everything we do, so we must make them the cornerstone of our plan.
When I grew up in Dangriga Town we use to kick dolly heads, garbage bags and different type of things because we could not afford to buy a football. We even played barefooted because most of our players’ families could not afford to buy them their football equipments. Our jersey shorts were made out of the flour bag material. Yet despite that with our determination, many of us became some of Belize’s biggest football stars. We also use to laugh at the rich children who came to the field with their football, boots socks, kneepads and full outfit but could not play football exceptionally well.
Belize will need a panel of coaches and former player to screen players in all various sports to do scouting reports and recommend players to our national teams because over the years and even up to today a lot of favouritism is taking place. Many of the best players who are supposed to represent our country are not selected because they favour somebody else. Sometimes it is because of the person’s race and other times it could be because they just do not like the person.
This for me is about winning the game. Whether you like the person or his or her race should not be the issue but winning all the time should be the focus. I have played football with many Belizeans in Belize and here in the United States where I played and coach for many years. When you ask players and former players what are the problems, these same problems come up over and over again.
I believe in solving problems and recommending solutions to problems. Over the years the press in Belize when reporting about the problems with this sport, tend to make it a pseudo event. Constantly highlighting the problem without bringing forward solutions to it, is not going to make football or any other sport better in our country.
I think that if we are serious about solving these problems, the Minister of Sports, the people involved in sports and the players of all sports could examine some of these recommendations that I have witnessed that worked when I was playing football for my military team in Germany.
In most countries in the world, the government is involved in football at the highest level because it is their country’s number one sport. People have been to war over this game and government have changed also due to it because football is still the world’s most powerful played sport. Whether you like it or not, this has been documented and hence the reason why I am still addicted to it and consider myself to be a Ball Perr.
I have written a few articles about this situation in Belize and I pray and hope that this article will result in some solutions and less constant back and forth in the press blaming individuals.
Born in Dangriga Town, the cultural capital of Belize, Wellington Ramos has an M.A. in Urban Studies from Long Island University