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Feb 26, 2018

M.C.C. Locked Down, Say Footballers

Think football in Belize City, and three letters come to mind – M.C.C. Yes, the name originally belongs to a cricket club from London, but the patch of land they donated many years ago has been the cradle of football, despite many ravages. But now, footballers who use the pitch for recreational and training purposes say they have been shut out after months of trying to accommodate for the National Sports Council. That such hallowed ground would be declared off-limits to the grassroots format of the “beautiful game” leaves them flabbergasted. But they asked News Five’s Aaron Humes to make an appeal to the administrators to respect their efforts to keep something positive in the morass of gloom in the Old Capital, as seen in this report.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

For many years it has been “Fire on the Barracks” – whether mundialito, junior or semi-professional football, with a sprinkling of international matches as well. But these days, the venerable M.C.C. Grounds doesn’t get much use, and these footballers say the restrictions of the National Sports Council have turned it into a ghost town.


Ryan Simpson

Ryan Simpson, Footballer

“We were told that we would have to start paying for the use of the football field; and which we complied with. Along with negotiations the price was reduced for us, but we put together as a group and we started paying for the field. After that, another issue arose with the national Sports Council that we were using one part of the field too much so we rotated in the corners of the field. After that another issue arose with the National Sports Council, that the small goals that we used was damaging the field.”


Aaron Humes

“It’s been a series of hurdles, and it has now reached the point where the Sports Council is saying you can’t use the field any at all. Have they explained why?”


Ryan Simpson

“They have given us some reason that the M.C.C. Grounds is not supposed to be used for recreational football. And then they made promises of putting a five-a-side football patch in the back there (gestures) but we’re saying – that sounds good and all, but we all know about promises, and if the plans are in effect and are going to be here soon, then we would just like to continue to use the field up until that time.”


A handful of youths have been using the M.C.C. for some years now, learning the discipline of football while benefiting from mentorship by older visitors. Simpson himself has played international football in Panama and been a member of the national team, the Jaguars. But for others like Francisco Briceño, this is their field of dreams, now off-limits.


Francisco Briceño

Francisco Briceño, Footballer

“This impact everybody. We have people from all ‘bout weh come play football out yah; so dah no just we ih impact – ih impact everybody, the youths, we have older fellas that come play out yah every night with we. I just wah dehn reverse the decision and give we the opportunity fi come back and play football in this environment; dis dah weh we love, dis dah weh we enjoy and that dah all we want; all weh we di ask for.”


Simpson and his fellow footballers say there are similar restrictions at the Marion Jones Sporting Complex. Southside pitches such as Yabra Field, Berger Field, Third World Field among others are located in gang-infested territories, presenting a safety issue. In fact, murder victim Fareed Ahmad was a regular at the M.C.C. Grounds prior to his death, and more recently young footballers have found themselves facing threats from the business end of a firearm. For coaches like Julius Allen and Davian Morrison, with the M.C.C. under lockdown, the alternative is putting more at-risk youth in peril.


Julius Allen

Julius Allen, Football Coach

“I usually deh out yah from early, from four o’clock, have my cone set up. Ih noh matta weh team you play with you could get your training from me. All a dat stop and ih no work out, so I just mi need the field back fi get my youths under control.”


Aaron Humes

“So you’re not playing anywhere else right now?”


Julius Allen

“No, nowhere else. I di try get Technical school grounds but they use it for their school activities so it’s difficult to get technical school grounds.”


Davian Morrison

Davian Morrison, Football Coach

“As a P.E. teacher, I’m delighted to see the younger ones come out here in the evening, putting away whatever they have to do just to come and play ball amongst us. And as you know there are not many positive influences over these youngsters in the city, where they live. So to see them come to M.C.C.,  one of the cradle of football in Belize City, community football, one of the cradles of people gathering and enjoying themselves in a positive way; I saw that when I came here and I wish for it to continue. And I don’t know if whomsoever makes these decisions is really conscious of those things. So we’re using this opportunity to voice that concern, to make them aware of the impact that it makes on these same youngsters.”


Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.


The ‘evening ballers’ group now practices at the Hour Bar Field.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “M.C.C. Locked Down, Say Footballers”

  1. concern says:

    So sad how the UDP has barred this positive development of youths…

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