The furore over the fate of superstar footballer Deon McCaulay continues to rage, but according to the Football Federation of Belize (FFB) it is out of their hands: unless Belize’s top goal scorer can pay his way home, he may not make it on to the national team to play in the second round of the regional qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup. A group of Belizeans organized via Facebook have now taken it upon themselves to ensure that Deon, who presently lives in Atlanta, Georgia where he played for the North American Soccer League’s Atlanta Silverbacks, makes it home. They plan to raise a total of $5,000 through various means. According to co-organizer of the “Deon Dollar Drive” Cordelia Belezaire, the striker is in support and is ready to come home and play.
“He supports the drive as well and supports the initiative. He is committed that as long as we can get him here and get the finances needed to cover him over the next 10 weeks while he’ll be here in Belize and as well travel to the Dominican Republic to play with the Jaguars. That he will do his best. He wants to play, he has no obligations, he wants to be a part of the team. It’s just that he can’t do it own financially. We as Belizeans, regular fans, we say,’ let us support him.'”
Co-organizer Jamil Wagner says he does not want the FFB or anyone else to have any excuses to keep Deon off the team.
We are looking for if we can get dollar pledges – it would be perfect if we could 1 dollar pledge from 5,000 people. That means we have 5,000 persons behind us. If we can’t get that, we’re still accepting more. If you can afford more then put more. But we are trying to get him here as quick as possible. He says he is willing to come so we are trying to get him here. We want to strike excuses off the list. We don’t want to say,’ oh we got him here too late.’ He has to work with the National team. There is already friction here, we want to stop the friction as soon as possible.”
The amount consists of $1,500 for the plane ticket from Atlanta, a $3,000 stipend for ten weeks of training matching what other members of the Jaguars receive, and $500 extra. Any money raised over the $5,000 limit will, at Deon’s personal request, be put into summer football and sports camps. Wagner describes their first two efforts at fundraising. .
“We plan to be at the Belmopan Bandits, tonight, with this bottle and we have the pledge sheets that have been authenticated by Mose Hyde, so if you want to ask, ask for the seal signatures. Ask to see Mose Hyde’s name and you right your name and your pledge and your number and we move forward from there. We also plan to be at the Hurricane’s game on Friday, if we can’t get in with the bottle, we will stand at the gate, so look out for us.”
Contributions are also being accepted at the Atlantic Bank account #211569202. Wagner can be contacted at 626-7344. McCaulay is Belize’s joint 4th-most capped international player with 32 appearances for the team since 2007, the last being in the 2014 Copa Centroamericana. He has scored 17 goals for Belize, one more than four times his nearest active rival in Harrison Roches.