- First ever National Youth Championships for boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 17 in Belize
- A total of 123 teams from all regions in the country
- More than 2,300 participants
With the aim of reorganising internally and modernising the national football structure, the Football Federation of Belize (FFB) set the foundation of a dynamic growth for its national teams and football clubs with the support of the FIFA Forward Programme.
“FIFA Forward allowed Belize to lay a solid football foundation that will make our national teams competitive internationally in the very near future” said FFB’s President, Mr Sergio Chuc.
There is no doubt that youth is the future in Belize. In fact, in line with its own development vision, the FFB launched a set of tournaments played in each region, allowing the best teams to take part of a final national competition. Consequently, a total of 26 new regional competitions were launched, which included 123 teams, 2,396 players, 90 referees and 130 coaches. Using FIFA Forward funds, the FFB builds competitions with the intention of becoming not only a vehicle of constant improvement of skills and techniques but also a huge social and sporting transformation of the young generation growing up with the ideals of fair competition and healthy development.
The new project of National Youth Championships for U-15 and U-17 had its best moment on Saturday 4 February, when many boys and girls were part of the very first awards ceremony held at the Marion Jones Sport Complex in Belize City. The ceremony was not just a party for the champion teams for each category, but also an opportunity to recognise all those who greatly contribute with devotion and passion to make these competitions a successful event for football in Belize.
This Forward project was also an efficient driver to provide girl with the possibility to play football with an amazing support of parents and friends. “The National Youth Competition which was finance by the FIFA Forward Programme has re-energised the awareness and development of women’s football in Belize to a level not seen before. This was clearly evident from the turnout of female fans, family members, and the attention given by the media. This responsiveness from all has prompted the Federation to employ a Women’s Football Director and to engage Women Advocacy Groups thought out the country to examine ways to engage women in the marginalised areas of the country and those considered at risk,” was the comment of Mr Earl Jones, FFB’s Secretary General during the ceremony.
Planned to run annually, this pilot project was crucial, amongst others, to enhance the creation of football club and ensure the players’ regular participation in consistent and organised competitions, which is considered a key element for football development in Belize and the implementation of the strategic plan of the FFB.
An important component to guarantee the proper organisation of these competitions was the establishment of five FFB regional offices across the country, also funded by the FIFA Forward Programme. The purpose of the five regional office is to serve as the operative arm of the FFB’s Headquarters based in the country’s capital Belmopan, providing constant support and assistance to the football communities of their specific areas.
Through the establishment of strategic alliances with the National Sport Council and the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, as well as strengthening the collaboration between all stakeholders and investing the FIFA Forward funds, the FFB ensures the continuity and sustainability of the National Youth Championships.