U-15 Team Returns To Heroís Welcome Belizeís Under-15 Football Team did us proud in Cayman. As we reported last week, they went three and one, scoring 11 goals while only giving up three Ė and in so doing, becoming the first international team from Belize to win three games in a CONCACAF tournament. More than that, they were also recognized for their discipline and good conduct and allowed to stay in Cayman for the championship game Ė where they were hosted by the organizers. And in the interim the Belizeans in Cayman took them all over the island for recreation and sightseeing. They had a grand time, and today, when they returned home, they were welcomed as heroes with a motorcade:Ö
Daniel Ortiz reporting
Family, friends and fans gathered at the airport to welcome Belizeís U-15 National Football Team, a.k.a. the Junior Jaguars.
And when they finally exited, applause erupted from the gathering, but the team, couldnít really wait to greet to their well-wishers.
No, they had to immediately jump into a bus to get ready for a motorcade.
They sped off to the Brodies Parking Lot on the Northern Highway, where they received the dignified welcome home, party style, music blaring to announce their importance to the City.
With a police escort, they were driven all through the main city streets, the young men, obviously enjoying the recognition.
They then arrived at the Radisson Hotel, where an official football press conference was called in their honor, and where their proud parents gather en masse.
The coach explained that the players, were only together for a mere 6 weeks, yet they turned a lot of heads.
Renan Cowo - Head Coach, U-15 National Team
"In four games - we won three and lost 1, scored 10 goals and saved three, very good defensive and very good offensive too. The process for this is showtime, because we have the National Team for the gold cup in the Federation. We only have one day to select the players to go to 160 other players to check in one day. We worked for 6 weekends, Tuesday to Sunday had 4 and 5 work out each weekend."
"We took the entire Caribbean by surprise, I think that they did not expect us to do as well as we did. We came out swinging, we said we were going to do that from the beginning, we held nothing back. Our philosophy is that we play and we do not allow the other times to play. They want to know what we are doing, they came to the point that they asked 'how long have you had these guys' and when we told them it was only 6 weeks, they did not believe it. That is what we did in 6 weeks so imagine what we can do if we have more time."
And for the only crucial loss to Guatemala, it was a shared sentiment. Team Belize belived that they could have won.
"The game that we played against Guatemala, unfortunately, it looks like they had studied us because those games were recorded and they came and applied the same thing to us and I think in the beginning we didn't know how to respond but then we did. We had chances but unfortunately we didn't score on them and they had one chance and they scored on us."
Ruperto Vicente - President, FFB
"The performance was excellent it's just that our players at that time were taken out of their game plan because the Guatemalans came really hard against them and they played extremely hard and dirty against our players. But nevertheless they stood their ground and Guatemala was only able to score one goal. We missed our opportunities - yes - and had we not missed our opportunity we would have beaten Guatemala."
Randy Augustine - Member, U-15 National Team
"We had many opportunities to score but we didn't finish - the Guatemalans got one opportunity and they made the goal and we weren't able to get back the goal."
"We all felt that we should have been there and we believe deeply that if we had overcome that deficit from Guatemala, we have what it takes to beat Honduras."
The first time for the U-15 team in a brand new tournament, but the young men say that they enjoyed the experience all the same."
Mark Samuels - Member, U-15 National Team
"At the 36th minute I got my first break, it was a big crowd and everybody told me to shoot so I just shoot but I made sure it went in."
"So all in all , you guys had a fun time?"
Alvin Sifontez - Member, U-15 National Team
"So you were just doing your thing, playing your game."
"Yes and then we went to swim with the dolphins "
"What would you say to other kids who will be watching at home - what would your advice to them? If they say I want to be like him, I want to play football. What would you tell them?"
Rene Leslie - Member, U-15 National Team
"I will say, just keep training and one day you might become like me."
"Do you believe that they are future footballers who went out on this tournament?"
"Definitely and this is where the federation is now focusing on youth development. We are going to be spending most of our time and energy and monies on youth development from the Federation."
Sergio Chuc - Senior Vice President, FFB
"I clearly remember somebody from the media asking me the same night we won - about what is the most important thing for this new executive coming in and I was talking about the youths and our focus will be on the youths because we know that with what we have here we can go far."
Today, the Female U-20 National Team arrived back from Honduras where they competed in the UNCAF U-20 Womenís Central American Qualifier. The team didnít win any of their 3 games, but it is the best performance for the Female national team, losing each game by only 1 point, those being 2-1, 4-3, and a final 4-3.
In other regional sports news, when we left you on Friday, it was with a cliff hanger as, in Honduras, the Belize under 20 volleyballers were in a tough match against Panama. IT went to five sets Ė and Belize won 19-17 in the fifth. A great win, but after that the teamís fortunes took a downturn.
Belize lost its last two matches against the power houses of Central America, Guatemala and Costa Rica, both by a score of 3 sets to 0. Belize finished with a 3 wins - 3 loss record and placed fourth. This is considered an excellent result and an improvement over the last junior team which placed 6th.
For the tournament, outside hitter, Sherika Burton was the 3rd best overall scorer with 74 total points.