US Embassy Supports Female Football Players’ Opportunity in the United States

US Embassy Supports Female Football Players’ Opportunity in the United States

The US Embassy in Belmopan continues to open opportunities for young Belizeans.  The recent initiative is seeing five female football players head to Princeton, New Jersey, USA for two-weeks of classroom and on the field activities.  An official ceremony was held this morning at the FFB Stadium where US Ambassador to Belize, Michelle Kwan interacted with the girls on the field, and expressed excitement at the opportunity for the young under-18 national football team along with their coach.

Michelle Kwan, U.S. Ambassador to Belize: “And partnering with the Ministry of Sports, Youth and Transport as well as FFB, the Football Federation of Belize, to create this program I’m super excited, as I said in my remarks, for these five women athletes who are traveling to the United States on a two-week-long exchange. And I think you said it the best in your remarks this is not only for the development of being great athletes, but also their leadership skills and they will return back to Belize empowered and confident and also shape who they are in their lives to excel not only in sports but outside of sports as well.”

Sergio Chuc, President, Football Federation of Belize (FFB): “We’ve seen them show very budding leadership skills and going on this exchange program will help them a lot with the people they will meet up there. Part of the curriculum I notice is 60% is actually theoretical, which is going to help them a lot to keep up with their personal leadership capabilities and then the next 40% is dealing directly with sports.”

Rodwell Ferguson, Minister of Sports: “When I was called by Ms. Deborah Sewell that they are looking for five young females to go to the United States to this sports camp, I had no objection with her. I called Ms. Iris Centeno who was the director for coach at FFB and I told her, you know what I need to make you organize five young ladies right away, get their documents ready, get everything ready for them to travel.”

Incidentally, the recently appointed National Sports Director, Iris Centeno will be chaperoning the group to the US.  Centeno spoke to the media on this opportunity, and what it means for the beneficiaries.

Iris Centeno, New Sports Director: “They are not the only ones so happy, I’m also very happy because I will be able to also enjoy this journey with them. And for me, empowering women is the number one priority, so it’s something big for us. I believe that this program will allow the girls to see the level of football out there and we want them to be more exposed to see how important it is for ladies in football to actually conquer, for them to believe that they can conquer in sports. And this will empower them, this will allow them to see that they are great leaders, they can come back to Belize, be able to share with other athletes this whole journey and experience and it’s important for us for them to believe that they can accomplish it and I’m sure that they know that and they are capable of doing anything that they want.”

Shamika Lambey is one of the players heading to the US on Wednesday.  Lambey says she looks forward to the exposure and enhancing her skills in football.

Shamika Lambey, Football Player: “Well I am very grateful for this opportunity because we are the first set of females to represent Belize and it’s a great opportunity to make the pathway for other Belizeans.”

The US Embassy notes that this unique exchange builds ties between international and American non-elite youth athletes and uses sports to positively impact communities around the world.  This is Belize’s first ever participation in this is premier exchange. 

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