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Nov 8, 2019

The Political Battle for Belama’s Basketball Court

Every Thursday, for the past year, Belize City youths have been converging at a community basketball court in Belama Phase Two for the Ball is Life tournament. The tournament, however, was suspended on Thursday night after a player realized that the basketball rim and backboard had disappeared. The rims and boards were removed by the Belize City Council and a press release states that the U.D.P. Standard Bearer for Freetown Orson Elrington did not request the use of the basketball court as all organizers are required to do. The council says that Orson removed the rims and backboards last week which prevented any use of that court by the community. The City Council wrote to Elrington and later granted him permission, provided garbage clean-up for his event, and advised him to seek the Council’s permission for any other activities. The release says that the Council has no official request on file that Elrington intended to use this basketball court yet again. Elrington says that the council is waging war against the youths of Freetown. But in the not too distant past, Elrington was at the core of a similar situation in the Caribbean Shores where rims were also removed affecting a tournament there as well. On Thursday night,   player Melbourne Wade said that the political battle between Elrington and the Council is affecting the youth.


Melbourne Wade

Melbourne Wade, Freetown Resident

“This is what they have done. Take down our rim, our backboard so that the youths of the Freetown Constituency and all other constituencies because it is a big tournament. We have a hundred and twenty participating youth that come out every Thursday night to enjoy a game. If you notice the youths are not happy about the situation. Tonight was a special for a tribute of one of our captains for one of the teams them, Mr. Baptist that passed away on Sunday. We are pleading with the City Council. We are not telling them that they are knocking out bread from people mouth. You are knocking down a youth program from what we are constructing positive things with the youth. We don’t only do basketball here. The youth come here to interact and teach them how to be a team player. Actually to come out here and enjoy a nice Thursday instead of being out there to idle themselves.” They could be out there and get positive things through basketball. Mr. Orson is just a sponsor, one of the prime sponsors for this tournament. This tournament is a community. The court was done and painted by the community. It is not just politics. This is a community thing. The people come out and support it for the past year. This is the second annual tournament. And the football field if you can see. They say they are maintaining this thing. They cut the post. The football field is bushy, snake, rat and all kind of things go into people yard because they are not maintaining it. And they put some big boulders in the middle of the field so that the youth can’t go play football on Sundays. On Sundays out here is full. The youths come and play football and go home and relax. But I see the City council is playing politics with our tournament.”

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