Where the past intersects the present
by Wellington C. Ramos

As a former national football player in Belize who is in love with this sport, I would like to take this opportunity to
commend the former Minister of Sport and now the new Minister for National Security Honorable John Saldivar
and his government for the stand they took against the Football Federation of Belize (F.F.B.) to reform the
league and make sure that there is accountability and transparency in the election of the league’s officers.

For almost fourteen years now, this league has been under the control of President Bertie Chimillio. The quality of
football did not improve under his administration, as least not compared to the good old days, and Belize has not
advanced to the World Cup to compete among other countries in the world. Yet, the league’s President insisted
that he was doing his best and that it would only be a matter of time before our country accomplish their goals
and objectives-meanwhile the Belizean people were becoming increasingly impatient.

Despite calls from some football players and former football players, that the President be removed and be
replaced by a able and capable administrator, all those calls fell on deaf ears. The President even said that FIFA
is an association by itself and that their problems must be resolved under the rules and regulations made by
them. It got to the point where the Belize governments both PUP and UDP, were afraid to challenge the
president of the league to explain the reasons for the lack of productivity over the years. FIFA even threatened to
expel Belize from the organization if they continued to meddle into the affairs of the organization.

The government of Belize was not meddling, it was simply that the public was demanding that they do something
about the sad state of affairs of football in their country and were forcing them to act. Eventually,   FIFA agreed to
listen to the concerns of the Belize government and sent representatives to Belize to hear the complaints and
concerns of all the various stakeholders involved with football in the country. In the end, elections were supervised
by officials from FIFA and the National Sports Council which brought about the election of new officers and a

Since the election of the new president, Puerto Alvarez, I have been listening to some of the new initiatives he is
planning to address over Love FM Radio Station. He has spoken about children and women’s football training
camps, but I am hoping that he is going to include elementary, high school, and college training and tournaments
to improve the skills of those players. This is the pool of players from which the Belize national football selection
will come. Also, a National Hall of Fame to honor our heroes who played the sport over the years would be a nice
addition to his goals.

Belizeans in Belize and abroad interested in the sport are watching the actions taken by the new president and
are hoping for the best. A couple of weeks ago there was a news report that funds were missing from the league’
s account. Well, that is something that could be rectified if the new president asks an accountant to do an
auditing of the association’s finances. Plus, FIFA has all the instruments in place to conduct audits. The
government of Belize must continue to monitor the progress of this association. There is a new minister of
sports,  namely Herman Longsworth, and I hope that he brings the same passion to sports  that his predecessor
Honorable John Saldivar had for it. I now call on all former and current football players to become more active and
vocal in expressing their thoughts and views on what they would like to see our country accomplish in this great
sport of football.

Wellington Ramos is a former soccer player from Belize. He is an Adjunct Professor and resides in New York City.
Photograph of Jack Williams courtesy of Gary Williams.
by Winston “Timo” Flores

As I watch the Central American nations: Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador competing for a
space to participate in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, I ask what, in terms of football, (soccer) have the former
British Colonies inherited from Great Britain?

While the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch colonizers created an Industry with soccer in their colonies, the British
were making sure that its colonial holdings remained underdeveloped and dependent. I can recall, for example,
how the British used to offer one open scholarship per year to the brightest Belizean to study in Britain. For a
country that claimed to have developed the sport of soccer, one would expect the British to introduce at least semi-
professional soccer to its colonies. Cho. Nada. After Independence, all the British colonies were struggling to
organize soccer and join the World Football body, FIFA.

But let us give credit where credit is due. Frank Sharp Sr. (a British transplant to Belize/British Honduras) was
enlightened enough to form a team (Queens Park Rangers) which spawned some of the greatest Garifuna,
perhaps even Belizean players, of all time.

That said, I believe the Portuguese and Spanish colonizers were different, in that they owned land, got married in
the colonies and lived there permanently.  The British, on the other hand, were in the colonies to market products
from England and rape their holding of their resources.

Meanwhile in Brazil, the Portuguese introduced the game of soccer long before the country gained its
independence. Not only did they introduce the game to the Brazilians, they also brought a high level of
organization to the game. The outcome of this contribution is at the the Brazilians have become some of the best
players in the world and have exported world-class players to all corners of planet earth. The players are a boon to
the Brazilian economy as they bring home much needed foreign capital. Needless to say, the economic value of
Portugal’s introduction of soccer to Brazil has become an invaluable source of capital and prestige to this South
American nation. Still, while Brazil has won several World Cups, Portugal has yet to win one.

In the former Spanish colony of Honduras, our Garifuna soccer-playing brothers have done as the Brazilians have;
they have exported their talents and skills and offered it to the highest bidders. A few are being paid millions of
dollars yearly for playing on some of the world’s best teams.

Under the Spaniards, Portuguese and Dutch colonizers, talented people were rewarded for their God-given talent.
With the British, one had to go to school and get a college degree before being rewarded. Sportsmen and creative
people were marginalized. This thinking continues somewhat in Belize to this very day, resulting in talented
athletes, musicians and artists barely able to eke out a living. Talent and creativity is loathed, feared and heavily
discouraged by the ruling intelligentsia…to this very day.

Our message to our young talents is: not much is required for local professional athletes to compete with the best
in the region, and by extension, the world. In many cases, all that is needed is a grass turf, a ball, talent and a little
guts and determination. Jamaican musicians and track and field athletes, for instance, are recognized the world
over as talent and creativity in that country is regarded as professionalism endeavors. There needs to be a change
of attitude, in Belize whereby more support is granted to professional sports organizations and individuals.

While we are happy and thankful for the British for leaving the democratic legacy of changing a government
without bloodshed, we would now like to apply that legacy in regarding and rewarding talented people and creating
employment for them at home and abroad.


Winston Flores is a former soccer player and retired Public Administrator from Belize. He resides in Los Angeles.
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Word-of-the-day September 2012