Ek ‘Balam Poktapok Team of Yo Creek Village in Orange Walk is the defending champions of the World Poktapok Tournament. In two weeks, they will need to defend their title at this year tournament in Merida, Mexico. However, the team is having a bit of trouble getting there. Founder Felicita Cantun has created a GoFundMe page with the hope to raise three thousand Belize dollars to get the Ek ‘Balam boys to Merida. Cantun told us why it is important that the team represents Belize and defends its title.
Felicita Cantun, Founder, Ek’Balam Belize: “Panama, they are going to fly. Government has already given them their tickets. Well I tell my boys “Well Muchachos even if it’s on bicycle you are going. We are going.” but we managed to get a van but then we have to pay for the transport of the van so we will need that plus we need attire. Because our boys practice on the cement man their attire, the leather attire that you used two years ago well it has big holes so we need a set of new attire plus travelling jerseys. Boys are really excited and putting their part. I tell them well “Mr.Novelo who is my partner in this game well we are going to see that you get there. All what you boys need to do is give your all.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love News: What happens if you come short of the money by the deadline ?
Felicita Cantun, Founder, Ek’Balam Belize: “Well I told them that even if it is on bicycle we will have to go so we have to start leaving from today. Well if we don’t have the money we cannot travel but universe will conspire and we will get the money I don’t know, maybe we win the Fantasy. If we do not go the other countries will be happy. They will be happy because they won’t have this competition that Belize gives them but I trust.”
Ek ‘Balam has reached out to several ministries including the Ministry of Minister of Youth, Sports and E-Governance for assistance. Minister Kevin Bernard has pledged to assist the team with one thousand dollars.
Kevin Bernard, Minister of Youth, Sports & E-Governance: “In terms of keeping traditions alive and of course to help promote sports you know when I was mayor I mean given support to the Poktapok team I feel that that it is critical for us to assist our athletes in any way possible and in the case of the Poktapok team they did reach out to me. Mr.Jimenez did reach out to me and I said to him definitely we are going to be looking at that and so I want to publicly state that the pledge I am offering to the Poktapok team is support of a thousand dollars. While we have a very small budget I can say that we’ve been assisting through the National Sports Council and through our ministry various athletes, individual athletes and organizations sometimes small, sometimes medium sized and in this case a thousand dollars. Some athletes have gotten fifteen hundred, two thousand dollars depending on the type of sport and where they’re going and so I felt that it was important for us to reach out as well and to respond to their request. I know they have made a GoFundMe account and I want to encourage others as well to give them that support. You know we need to continuously look at ways how we can improve with our athletes and to support our athletes in every ay possible and so this is just one way we are giving back as well.”