The Belize National Football Team leaves for Portland, Oregon on Friday, where they have the unenviable task of playing their first game against the United States team in its opening match before a home crowd at Jeld Wen Field.
Even for the decided underdogs, the stakes are high, as Belize makes its Gold Cup debut. The team has been working hard to prepare, and on Saturday night, they played a friendly match against an all-star cast of footballers from the Premier League of Belize.
7News was there, and we asked the Team’s assistant coach about how the preparations have been going. Here’s how he explained the dedication of the team, which sees the support of the public:
Charlie Slusher - Assistant Coach, Belize National Football Team
"It has been very intense - the guys have been working very hard because when you watch how the U.S team plays and the Costa Rica team, those guys are actually in the run to qualify for the World Cup which means that they are at their peak. There's no doubt about it that they are at the best level that they can be because they are looking to qualify for the World Cup which means that we have to raise our level in terms of conditions and technical skills - especially condition if we're not in shape we will be blown out by these teams. It's a sense of relief for some of the guys and it's really tough when you talk about working for two months and a half - intense morning training sometimes three times for the day and being confined to Belmopan and this field and the building over that side. It's very difficult and these guys really work hard but the good thing about it is that we're happy that they are all cooperating and they are willing to prepare themselves for that journey. We have to be thankful for that."
But as we also told you, the Football Federation of Belize was unable to meet a target of $500,000 to fund the team while the practice.
So, we asked about how that lack of funding has affected the teams’ ability to prepare. Here’s what he told us:
"It hasn't played a role because in our hearts and mind we believe that we will come through when it comes to that - the Belizean people will support us but at the end of the day we still had to be focused on the game regardless of the money issue - the game will be played. And if we're not ready and we're finding excuses and we say that we didn't play good out there because of the money - we definitely don't want to think in that aspect but we know even if we don't reach that margin we know we'll be close enough and we will pull through. The team now - we were a little disappointed the day of the telethon but at the end of the day, today we went to Belize at the Barbeque fund raiser that Wave had and we are very excited to see the other people doing something special for the team."