Are you a sports fan? Great things coming for Belize!
When we first moved to Cayo some 30 years ago, all there really was in the way of sports facilities were a few balls and some dusty fields set aside for football, some rusty hoops here and there for basketball players, and not a whole lot else. A few loosely sponsored football (soccer to our friends up north) teams held scheduled matches between villages, and horse racing had its share of competitors and fans.
This wasn’t for lack of enthusiasm, for Belizeans are a sporting bunch. There just wasn’t a lot of money or organisation as most people were too busy trying to make a living in agriculture and other time intensive, low-income pursuits. Schools did the best they could, but again, it was with what they had.
As ecotourism and related opportunities arrived the standard of living increased and so did the sporting life as facilities were upgraded. Sponsorship of teams increased, and events such as the annual La Ruta Maya River Challenge evolved from a few guys and gals in canoes paddling their hearts out in whatever crafts they could find to the well-organised international event it is today.
We love what the growth of sports has done for the Cayo District. There’s the healthy competition, but more importantly is the sense of responsibility, teamwork and pride it fosters in young people, giving them healthy avenues to use that youthful energy that’s always looking for an outlet. We all know that old adage about idle hands…
So it was with great interest that we read that Belize Infrastructure Limited, aka BIL is going to spend some 60 million dollars on sporting facilities across Belize, and recently signed its first contract in Belizean districts, including Cayo, where the area representative and minister of works Rene Montero signed a preliminary contract for a FIFA standard football field.
Mr Montero reports that the recently signed feasibility and design project is for the upgrading of the Santa Elena sporting complex to a 13 acre site which will house both a practice field and a FIFA qualifying playing field when it’s complete.
The 2.5 million dollars project which should start around June or July and other projects include multi purpose facilities for basketball and volleyball.
“Once we get the feasibility study and design then we will put it out for tender and then we will get it going,” Mr Montero told the media.
Some of our readers will remember following the almost rags-to-riches saga of the Belize Jaguars, who last year played their first Gold Cup match against the US team in Oregon. They may not have won, but they definitely distinguished themselves for their sportsmanship, never say die attitude, and made headlines for turning down a very sizable bribe to throw the game and increase the point spread.
The story made a huge impact in Belize and gave our young people a new group to look up to.
We were all proud of our players, and now the youth of Cayo and other districts will have proper facilities to emulate their heroes and keep evolving into the teams we know they can be.
So kudos to BIL, Mr Montero and all those who work hard to make world-class sports facilities in Belize a reality. If our players have come so far with what little they’ve had, image what the future holds?