Football Federaton of Belize holds 6th Ordinary Congress

Football has become Belize’s sports darling after a tumultuous year that began with the ouster of an unpopular President and ended with historic results for the National Senior and Junior teams. On Saturday in Belize City, representatives of Belizean football met to review a successful year and make plans for the next at the Sixth Ordinary Congress of the Football Federation of Belize (FFB). Ruperto Vicente, Federation president, speaks to PLUS News about the meeting and about plans to upgrade the FFB Stadium in anticipation of the return of international club football to Belize.

Ruperto Vicente – FFB President:
vlcsnap-2013-04-08-20h30m14s147Certainly it has been a very productive congress.  We approved the expenditure for the Federation for 2013, and we also approved the expenditure for last year. [It] ensures that our Federation is growing.  Of course, we have a lot of work ahead of us. One of them is to improve the lighting facilities at the stadium, to facilitate the playing of the Champions League, in which our semi-pro teams will participate. We’re moving ahead and we’re pushing it real fast.

The planned upgrades are expected to be concluded by mid-May in advance of inspections by CONCACAF and FIFA. Senior officials from the regional confederations Belize belongs to – UNCAF for Central America and CONCACAF for North and Central America and the Caribbean, attended and spoke at the Congress. CONCACAF General Secretary Enrique Sanz pledged the confederation’s continued support for Belize:

Enrique Sanz – CONCACAF General Secretary:  
vlcsnap-2013-04-08-20h31m00s102We’re supporting Football throughout the region.  Belize needs some work here in marketing.  We’re here to help.  Our goal as CONCACAF is the develop the game throughout the region, that’s starting from grass roots, from administration, from marketing, from sales.  We need more income, and sponsors would be happy to be affiliated with the Federations and with the Confederation, for them to be able to invest more, and with that investment comes the ability to reinvest into the game.  The important thing is that we get the youth the opportunity to play at the best level, and also we support the professionals.  

And UNCAF chief Rafael Tinoco says things have changed since the last time he visited, to oversee the change of command in Belmopan:

Rafael Tinoco – UNCAF Chief:  
vlcsnap-2013-04-08-20h31m37s227First of all, I see the support of the league, also the support of the Government, the plans that were presented, the idea of what you want to do with youth tournament, and all that Belize can do.  You have a lot of good players. and to see that they’re integrating a plan to do this, also a marketing plan ordered by CONCACAF.  I think you’re really in the correct way.  It will take some time.  You made a huge step, qualifying for the Gold Cup, but it will take some time.

Delegates from the seven footballing association districts and the Premier League approved the Federation’s budget and plans.

It was announced earlier this week that the FFB made just $5,000 from its international friendly match at the FFB Stadium on March 23 in which Belize played Trinidad and Tobago to a scoreless draw. That is only a drop in the bucket for the $500,000 the Federation needs to send the Jaguars to the United States in July. We asked FFB President Ruperto Vicente whether the controversy over the change of venue from MCC Grounds in Belize City to Belmopan hurt the attendance and this was his response.

Ruperto Vicente – FFB President: 
I think the gate was excellent.  The profit we realized was good for several reasons. One is that Trinidad costs us a lot more [than expected].  We had to pay all the expenses here in Belize, as well [as] looking at some of the other expenditures that we had.  We were also looking at giving the Belizean public a treat.  Normally a game of that magnitude, entrance fee would be $30 per person.  But we cut that in half in order to give Belizeans a taste of what the National Team game is like.

So how does the Federation plan to raise the money needed? A telethon is planned for later this month:

Ruperto Vicente – FFB President: 
We’re looking at raising funds here in Belize.  Some of those funds would come from the Telethon that we’re going to be having on the 27th of April.  We’re also looking at raising funds in the United States. There are Belizeans in the United States who are prepared to support our National Team.

Belize is scheduled to play the U.S.A., Costa Rica, and Cuba in the group stage of the Gold Cup.

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