Belizean 1960's, 70's and 80's basketball has seen many a big man come through the middle on a Belizean basketball court, but through the lens of many a Belizean sports enthusiast, Belizean basketball center of the 1970's basketball great team "Wheels", Charles Goff, had made a serious impact on Belize's basketball landscape. Depending on which way you want to look at it, Goff dominated the center as one of Belize's most domineering big men, under considerably pressure and opposition from others like J.J. Lynch and Emile Grinage of the legendary Belize basketball team Happy Home Builders.
In our Belizean Legends interview with Goff last year, he remembered how it was when he was a novice under the shadows of the towering Wilton "Cama" Cumberbatch who at that time stood more than six feet tall and who taught him many basics in terms of how to dominate in the center. But Goff reflected that he had to wait his turn as a junior member of Cama's team at that time.
"I really was getting tired of just sitting on the bench", said Goff. "But as soon as I got my chance to play I worked hard on becoming better at the game all the time."
Belizean basketball was built by many a great and legendary athletes of the times, like the legendary Evondale Coburn and Harry Cadle of early 1970's Belizean basketball at St. Ignatius School and later others like the legendary Clinton Pulu Lightburn who had rose as some of the new stars like Goff among a cadre of senior players that would not take any mess from the "Johnny come latelys" of the time. Junior players were put in their places when Goff emerged on the Belize basketball scene, and according to Goff there was no room for mediocrity.
In profiling Charles Goff in this expose some few weeks before airing his exclusive interview on Belizean Legends, yours truly can only stop and think what it would have been like if Belizean basketball players had gotten the basic support from the society and family as Goff alluded to that he and many of his colleagues that played the game were blessed to have received.
"Belizean basketball players today lacked the kind of support from family and society that we got playing ball," says Goff. "We were sheltered in the 1970's and we had better family structures than these Belizean youths playing ball today."
As Goff remembers how it was when a Belizean national team that he expressed how fortunate it was for him to be on that team that played abroad against some of the best in the Caribbean and Central America, he cannot but recalled how he appeared small among some of the other players from rival Central American teams because those teams were recruiting their diaspora talents long ago when Belize was not even thinking about looking abroad then until the 1990's when the likes of Belizean-American basketball players like Milton Palacio and Alex Carcamo and others were recruited from Los Angeles and other major cities in the United States.
Goff felt that such a move in recruitment began working in Belize's favor somewhat too late and explains why Belize never won any gold medal in basketball at the Central American & Caribbean Games in the 1970's when he played. He is a big supporter of Belizean sports recruiting Belizean-American talent from the U.S. and other parts of the Belizean diaspora.
by Bilal Morris, (Photo provided through the courtesy Evan X Hyde author of the classic book, Sports, Sin & Subversion)