We the Garifuna and Belizean people should be proud of Evan Mariano, one of our Belizean national team football players, who was drafted by the soccer team Hurricanes from Houston, Texas.

We all wish him well and he is following in the footsteps of one of Belize's best strikers ever, Deon McCauley, who became the first Belizean to be drafted to play football in the United States with the Atlanta Silverbacks soccer team.

These players will hopefully pave the way for other Belizeans to get more opportunities to be drafted and play in the United States. My hope is that a Belizean gets drafted to play in Europe, where the best players in the world play.

In Belize, like most countries in the world, when we use the word football it means "soccer" in the United States because the Americans have a sport that they call football as well that is completely different from soccer.

Why the Americans decided to call this sport football when they knew that there was already a sport with this name baffles me. Then, people seldom use their foot when playing this game, which makes it laughable.

As a former football player in Belize, I have been following this sport since I left my country in 1978. I believe that the quality of football players in Belize has declined considerably. Also, the type of football they are playing. When I went to watch the game between Belize and Cuba in Connecticut last year, I felt embarrassed by the way the national team played.

Our country needs to change its system of how they recruit, groom, train, select players and improve their playing skills to meet international standards. This can only happen by starting youth football for our boys and girls from an early age, improving facilities in all of our communities, scheduling workshops to train coaches and referees, teaching the sport in all of our schools and having a physical education teacher in place with a gym.

Regular primary school and college competitions will be necessary on a regular basis for the teams to compete. From this pool, our players will be selected from young people between the ages of 12- 14 years to go and play with our national team to acquire all the fundamentals, skills and body conditioning before they can represent our country.

Every country's goal is to win the World Cup. This is not about playing football just to play football. Does Belize have a plan in place to win a World Cup one day? If no, why? If yes, we need to see it and find out if it is achievable.

If every four years we fail to qualify to go to the World Cup, then we need to change all the people who are preparing our team to achieve this goal. I applaud the minister of sports at the time, John Saldivar, for insisting that drastic changes had to be made with the Belize Football League. Otherwise, we will be doomed for a long time.

The World Cup will commence this coming week in Brazil and the whole world will be watching the most powerful sport in the world. Let us see what this new group will do to change things because the clock is ticking again. One year is a long time to wait, much less four and four times four multiplied is even worse. I do not believe in fostering false hopes and dreams.

Wellington C. Ramos
Former Belize Football Player

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