Young Belizean soccer players Woodrow West and Ian Gaynair this week received the first ever Fair Play Trophy in a special ceremony designed to celebrate sporting values and the Olympic spirit. The ceremony was attended by Herman Longsworth, the Minister for Education, Youth and Sports, and showcased the country's commitment to upholding the highest standards in competition.
Belizeans are well known for their love of sport and there are lots of opportunities to get involved at every level. Sailing, angling and diving are naturally among the most popular, but cricket, tennis and bowling are also popular, so there is something for everyone. People thinking of retiring in Belize will be pleased to know that this includes sporting and fitness opportunities for older people, a great way to stay healthy and make new friends.
The Belize team has attended 11 Olympic Games events since the country achieved independence, though it has yet to attend the Winter Olympics with such a balmy climate, it would be difficult to practice winter sports. In 2012 it competed in ten different events in the athletics, shooting, cycling and judo categories. The Fair Play award ceremony, which took place at Belize House in Belmopan, was attended by two members of the Belize Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association including its President Emeritus, Edward Pitts. Michael Blease, the General Secretary of the Football Federation of Belize, also attended, while Governor General Sir Colville Young awarded the trophy.
The Belize National Football Association, which oversees soccer tournaments in the country, was formed in 1980 and more recently admitted women's teams. Spectating at matches is a popular national pastime almost as popular as watching, or participating in, the annual 150-mile cycling road race. Volleyball is also popular among the youth, with the national women's youth team recently scoring a victory at the Central American Championships.
What stands out about Belizean sport is, as the Fair Play award illustrates, not simply success but the pride taken in good sportsmanship. There is also a real sense of joy in participation. These are values that extend to other areas of life and they are part of what makes Belize such an appealing place to live. They show that retiring in Belize doesn't have to mean sitting back and doing nothing, for all the appeal of relaxing in the sun Â there are plenty of opportunities to live an active life.