And another bit of good news for the football community, the Belmopan Bandits will be allowed to participate in the CONCACAF Champion's League.
As we told you the FFB Stadium has been receiving a 1.8 million dollar upgrade funded by FIFA. This was in an effort for Belize reach the qualifying standards to play in the games, and after assessing the progress on stadium made so far, CONCACAF says that the Belize can now participate.
Vicente told us that it's welcome news for the 2014 Premier League Champs, The Bandits:
Ruperto Vicente - President, FFB
"We have received the green light but we still have the pitch to get ready by the 2nd of July and that's going to confirm their participation. Yes there are in and all we need to do now is to prepare the pitch for them."
"Did you meet the deadline that had been in place?"
"Certainly we met the deadline, but just they gave us an extension to complete the pitch itself."
"What does that entail though?"
"The completion of the pitch is simply putting on the goals, finishing the grass, leveling the field and as well as cutting it it. The lighting system is complete and that has passed with FIFA. We are now using a stadium that has the lighting between 1100 - 1600 lux, so the lighting system is okay. The locker rooms have passed as well, those are okay and all that is left for the locker rooms are the bathrooms facility and as well as putting the AC in. Those are going to be completed. The bleachers are completed, those are being numbered. We are good to go for champion's league. All that is left for us this week is putting the rest of grass, level the field and then cut it and line it - that's all left for us and so Bandits already in champions so they will be playing that this year."
The rest of the works on the stadium are expected to be finished in the first or second week of July. The Bandits will be the first to play an international match on the new pitch when they represent Belize in the Champion's League.
F.F.B. field gets a two-million dollar facelift
The Football Federation of Belize facilities in Belmopan are getting a much needed facelift, to the tune of two million dollars. The upgrade includes a FIFA certified field with certified bleachers and sanitary facilities with team lockers, as well as a complete enhancement of existing buildings. The work started in April 2014 and must be completed by July second, in time for certification before the Champions League in August. Mike Rudon was in Belmopan today and stopped in. Here’s that story.
Mike Rudon, Reporting
The home of FIFA sanctioned football in Belize is receiving some much needed attention. Contractors are working on a tight deadline, since works on the field must be done by July second. Looking at what seems to be wild bush growing free today, that seems far-fetched, but F.F.B. President Ruperto Vicente says it will be done by Monday.
Ruperto Vicente, President, F.F.B.
“We are preparing the field. It has to be done by July second. This has to be completed, so there are a couple things that need to be done here. The laying of the drainage pipe on the side of the pitch is being done now, and then this evening we’re going to be getting the last set of trucks coming in from Mexico with the grass, and that’s going to be laid down and then start rolling the field and cutting it and getting it ready for Monday. So by Monday we should have a completed field with all the goalposts in place and the field lined.”
The goal is to have the field and facilities certified to FIFA standards, and the deadline given by inspectors is July second.
“We must get our stadium prepared for Champions League. Our league champions must participate in champions League tournaments. So it is important to us as a federation to get this field ready for them and ready for the Bandits to play. As you are aware champions League has its own requirements. Our lighting system must have a minimum of eight hundred locks…presently our lights are between eleven hundred and sixteen hundred…so we’re in good shape with that. Our pitch has been certified as well and the inspectors have come and they have given us up to the second of July to have it ready. So everything here is ready for the Champions League.”
Vicente took us on a tour today, showing us refurbished bleachers and brand new facilities with full bathrooms and air-conditioned locker rooms to home and visiting teams. It’s a complete revamping, necessary because the F.F.B. has to meet certain standards for participation in FIFA sanctioned events.
“The lights have been approved, so we are good with our lights. The other things that are being done are the locker rooms. Those are being completed now and are going to be done next week. So our locker rooms are going to be in good shape. We have enough space, we have enough bathrooms and they are going to be air-conditioned. If you can notice, the bleachers are done as well. Those have been certified and numbered as well so we’re well on our way. So Bandits will play Champions League this year.”
There was once slightly sour note in all this. FIFA had approved funds for the construction of football fields all over the country. So guess where the two million being pumped into the F.F.B. facilities is coming from…
“The monies that FIFA had approved for us to put fields across the country…it is the same money that we’ve taken to improve these facilities. So all the money that FIFA had approved for fields in Belize has now been taken to improve this stadium herein order to have it ready for international football. So we’ve put that on hold. The fields that we were supposed to build in the districts, we’re putting those on hold until FIFA can approve more funds for us.”
There are also plans to build a dorm facility on the grounds for national team players. Construction on that should start soon. Mike Rudon for News Five.
News Five also asked Vicente about debts owed by the F.F.B. to players of Team Jaguars since the Gold Cup last year. He says that those monies will be paid by July fifteenth.