While there are some baseball fans in Belize, especially of major league teams like the Chicago Cubs, the sport hasn’t been actively played here in a quarter-century. Softball is still popular, but the last regional glory was about a decade ago on the women’s side. A popular and recognized player in men’s softball who is a big baseball fan is hoping to revive the pastime in Belize, starting with the youth. News Five sat down with Carlyon Flores to hear his plans for Little League Baseball. Aaron Humes reports.
Aaron Humes, Reporting
The Little League World Series? The World Series of Major League Baseball? For famed softballer and baseball fan Carlyon Flores, the sky is the limit.
Carlyon Flores, Founder/President, Belize Visionary Foundation of Baseball and Softball
“If I can have a Little League that is very structured – the same eight-team format, four teams, four teams, and I can liaise and partner with, for example, Major League Baseball; the professional baseball federations in the [Dominican Republic], in Cuba, in Venezuela, in Puerto Rico; if I can get these major players to come and invest in this sport, in this foundation, we can get these baseball players from Belize to become great players, to play at that professional level. And eventually, if they will go and play for example in America, and become major league superstars – think about this, especially if they come from impoverished homes – these young men can go to America, make millions of dollars, and with the proper principles, the proper impartation of values and teaching them how to love and to take care of their money, they can come right back to Belize and invest in more sporting programs, put things in place whereby you can change the socio-economic status of many families and their own families.”
It is a dream Flores once had, dating back to his time in Little League in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Once he got older, he switched over to softball where he made a name for himself along with his brothers. Growing disillusioned with a lack of organization by the local organizations in Belize City, he struck out on his own in 2017. But Flores believes he and his executive are now ready for the challenge of training and organizing City youth to bat and pitch their way to greatness.
“Since I have come up from the Little League baseball program, I am very much aware of the things that went wrong, and I am also aware of the things that can be done to get it done properly. My foundation has all those things in place. We have drafted a very comprehensive plan, well-detailed, and the plan has all those things in place. So yes, in regard to structure and organization, we have all those things in place to rectify and to establish a very structured, well-organized Little League Baseball program, not just for today and tomorrow but for the future generations to come. We do have personnel who are ready to undertake that kind of task, to teach our young people the game the proper way. Actually that was the way I was brought up, I was taught the game the proper way. Now keep this in mind: these people that taught me baseball didn’t go to any school to teach me baseball and I became one of the very great players in Belize history. Now, again, if I had been given the opportunity to go to America, I would have become a Major League Baseball [player] – and I can put this on the block, I would have become a Hall of Fame player. Now, we have the people in place, who may not have that academic background, saying that I went to this school for sports; but the experience that they had, that helped us become great players – are the very same people who are here today with me, who are willing to help teach the next generation of players and that includes myself, who will be a participant in teaching young people the game the right way.”
So when can you look forward to a contest at Rogers Stadium or a field near you? Well, they don’t call them ‘the boys of summer’ for nothing.
“We have drafted our plan, like I keep saying, and our plan has on its agenda, that Little League program will be in May of this year and that will run us through to some point in the summer, even up to July. And I’m very hopeful, me and my executive foundation members we are very hopeful that we can train the young people prior to the commencement of the Little League Baseball League.”
“So you’d have to sign up?”
“Yes. We have what we call a parental consent form; the parental consent form is very simple but it’s very detailed. And we have this parental consent form as a check and balance and also for data. Back in my day when I was playing, we didn’t have a lot of things that I think were important and so now I’m trying to keep what we call data, the records for our players.”
Play ball! Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.
The photos are from a tournament in Cancun, Mexico for fast-pitch softball attended by a Belize Visionaries Team last year. They lost three of four games but hope to attend again this year.