The Belize National Football Team, also known as the Belize Jaguars, returned to Belize on Monday, January 28, 2013, after making history in the Copa Centro Americana Games held in San Jose, Costa Rica.
While the boys from Belize might not have won first place, they were the official big story of the competition, surprising regional football observers who expected them to be easily knocked out of play. The team captured the attention and hearts of many Belizeans and returned to a heroes’ welcome.
The Belize Jaguars made sporting history for the nation as they qualified for 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup to be played in 13 host cities across the United States against 11 other nations in July. One of the more interesting stories to come out of this year’s UNCAF event revolves around the Jaguars’ breakout at the international level. The smallest Central American nation by a long shot, with just 300,000 inhabitants, Belize had only had four draws from eight previous tournament appearances.
After their grand heroes’ welcome and motorcade around the city and pep rally, the celebration came to a bittersweet end as it was confirmed that the coach, Leroy Sherrier, who led the team to the spectacular performance in Costa Rica, has resigned. The news came as a stunning development because under his direction, the Belize U-15 football team won a gold medal, and now, with his direction, the National Team has qualified for the Gold Cup. Best of luck to the Belize Jaguars Football Team!