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Aug 25, 2023

U.B. Relaunches Black Jaguars Sports Program

After a three-year hiatus, the University of Belize has brought back its Black Jaguars Sports Program. The program has been a hallmark of the university’s identity since its inception. Today, athletic scholarships were awarded to deserving students as the university’s leadership team envisions a more holistic sports program. News Five’s Paul Lopez was in Belmopan. He filed the following report.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

This morning, the University of Belize awarded twenty-five athletic scholarships to students from across the country.  The university’s athletics program was launched when the school first opened its doors. But, it went dormant during the Covid-19 pandemic. This morning’s award ceremony marked the official restart of that program. Doctor Vincent Palacio, the President of the University of Belize, told News Five that one of his commitments upon taking office in August 2022 was to re-launch the program.


Vincent Palacio

Dr. Vincent Palacio, President, University of Belize

“It is important for us as a university, the national university to bring back this program. Our sports program builds identity for the university. The Black Jaguar movement is a movement and it brings people together, students together, faculty together and we provide support for our athletes as they get involved in this sports program. We are extremely grateful to Minister Fonseca for supporting the program, providing twenty-five scholarships for these athletes.”


Lorraine Cal is pursuing a degree in nursing at the University of Belize. This is her second year of studies. She is now able to compete on the female football team under a full scholarship, with the restart of the sporting program. Cal is from San Miguel Village in Toledo District. She says, her mother and grandmother both wanted to become nurses, but they could not afford to be pay for their studies. She says this athletic scholarship is a game changer for her family.


Vincent Palacio

Lorraine Cal, Student Athlete, University of Belize

“It is really great that I have received this scholarship. I have a lot of siblings and it’s really a huge burden taken off my parents shoulders. I played in my last year in primary school because before I use to be afraid of the sport and when I started playing I realized I loved it. It was like I family dream, my grandma wanted to be a nurse and she wanted my grandmother to be a nurse but because of financial reasons she couldn’t and now I am.”


We also heard from several other scholarship recipients. They told us about their passion for sports and how they intend to strike a balance between athletics and academics.


Roderick Castillo

Roderick Castillo, Student Athlete, University of Belize

“Personally for me it is a big help financially but not just that. For me it helps me focus more and what is necessary what is the goal, not just on the field on the court, but also academically. We get athletes from all over so that means we get training and resources from all over to compete not only within the country but outside so the level of athletes we have is optimal and close to excellence, so we continue to strive to reach excellence as well.”


Jonathon Chiquin

Jonathon Chiquin, Student Athlete, University of Belize

“What made me choose the University of Belize is their vast resource and how they treat their athletes and how they put not one thing over the other, they put a lot of things together, academically and physically and they also take care of their athletes as you heard mental health.”


Jamion Recinos

Jamion Recinos, Student Athlete, University of Belize

“Two years ago I graduated from Johns. I thought Johns would be an open door for me but sadly it wasn’t. But I did not stop pursuing my goal. I just came here to Belize to try it out for sports and I already had it academically. I just came here and tried out for the volleyball team and today I have a student athlete scholarship which I am very much grateful for and I will definitely not misuse that scholarship because it is really took a financial burden off my parent’s wallet.”


Gavin Taylor

Gavin Taylor, Student Athlete, University of Belize

“I felt like UB was the perfect school of choice because I really felt sort of patriotic and I want to give back to my country and represent Belize in more ways than one. This really gives me an opportunity to further my education and knowledge and get somewhere better in life.”


The University of Belize has made several advancements to significantly improve its sports program. Among those changes is the recruitment of Kelsey Baldermos as Sports Coordinator.


Kelsey Balderamos

Kelsey Balderamos, Sports Coordinator, University of Belize

“This program is much more holistic this time around. So we have mandatory wellness checks where they have to visit the nurse and counselor. We also have study halls. They have started that already where they have to put in two hours in the lounge to get their studying done and we also have physicals, six a.m. physicals which we already started. This is much more holistic. We are not just looking at their sports skills. We are looking at the entire package to make sure they are proud model graduates of UB when they get out of here.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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