And while Andrew Ortiz being back to share his success story is good news for Basketball fans who want to see local talent play at an international level, things arenít looking so good for the Premier League of Belizeís champions.
Thatís because the FFB announced today that they canít participate in the CONCACAF Champions League 2013-2014.
President of the FFB, Rupert Vicente, was in Belize City today, and so we asked him to explain why:
Ruperto Vicente - President, FFB
"We regret that we will not be able to participate in the CONCACAF Champion's of Champion's League of 2013-2014 for the mere fact that demands are too high. There are too much demands and we can't meet those demands at this point. CONCACAF is asking all the clubs or all the countries that to participate in the Champion's league, to ensure that the lighting system at the stadium is properly fixed and that it give up at least a minimum of 800 lux. As well that those lights will have to be at a certain height, at present our lighting system, our lights at the stadium is 19 ft high and they are saying that the lights have to be 130 or 140 ft higher so we will not be able to meet that at this point. Secondly they are also asking that clubs that participate in champions league must have the locker room at the stadium air conditioned and installed a minimum of 12 showers for hot and cold water - we do not have that. Thirdly they also asked that we have three five star hotels in the neighborhood of the stadium in order to participate - we do not have that in Belmopan, I'm not even sure if the hotels in Belize City which is one hour away from the stadium are five star hotels. So we cannot meet those conditions so for those reasons Belize will not be able to participate in the Champion's League until we meet those conditions.
We've spent over $100,000 trying to improve the lighting system at the Federation Stadium, we also incurred cost in improving the grass on the stadium and other things. Presently we're working at painting the bleachers because that was also a requirement. We can do those things but the other things we will not be able to meet, we have spent a considerable amount of money trying to meet the demands of CONCACAF and the Champion's league and we still cannot participate."
"But while it is understandable that some of the requirements may seem to be far above Belizean belt, they want us to hang our hat too high. At some point we will have to elevate our standards."
"Certainly we're working on that. CONCACAF has promised, as well as FIFA plan to work with us on that and also to improve our stadiums but keep in mind we are doing our best to reach those standards. We must also get it clear, that in all of CONCACAF there are 40 countries and only 20% of the members of CONCACAF are participating in Champion's League tournament and that is because the stakes are too high. The countries - only two Caribbean countries are participating at this point because most of the Caribbean countries cannot afford to participate. Nicaragua has just met the standards so they are participating. Most of the countries cannot, only 9 countries in CONCACAF are participating in the Champion's League tournament. We will do our best to meet those standards and have international football played in Belize."
Vicente says that the President of CONCACAF will be coming to Belize to consult with them on how to reach to those high standards.
He has also pledged that the Champions of the Premier League will get an opportunity to play football at an international level by organizing matches with these outside clubs to be played in Belize.