Posted: Friday, February 17, 2017. 2:59 p.m. CST.
By BBN Staff :Elections are being held this weekend, 18th February, for the executive positions on the National Olympic Association or the Belize Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association (BOCGA) as the local organization is titled. Are we in for just more of the same or are we on our way to Olympic dream.
The Belize Olympic and Commonwealth Association is the local arm of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and according to the IOC’s website, “a National Olympic Committee (NOC) is a national constituent of the worldwide Olympic movement. Subject to the controls of the International Olympic Committee, NOC’s are responsible for organizing their people’s participation in the Olympic Games” and related qualifying tournaments or competitions. National committees primarily act on behalf of local sporting associations or federations to access funds held by the IOC to either offset the cost of Olympic qualifying competition regionally or internationally in a sport or for approved development activities locally for that sport. The IOC’s website also indicates that the BOCGA has been recognized since 1968. However, this upcoming election will only be the second since the organization’s inception, the first was held in 2013.
There has been increased interest by the general public in the affairs of the Olympic association especially since, against popular support, they snubbed local track and field athlete Kaina Martinez for the Rio Olympics last year. In fact, when Belize participate in the Olympics, more officials than athletes are sent to the games.
Over the last few months, the media has received a series of letters from activist Neri Briceno addressed to the President of the BOCGA and, more recently, to Alamilla requesting transparency and clarification on a number of matters regarding the affairs of the organization ranging from the Kaina Martinez fiasco, Alamilla’s fitness to serve in view of his criminal past (Mr. Giovanni Alamilla is the organization’s treasurer and had served jail time after confessing to a bank robbery in Illinois), the organization’s finances, and the election process for officers. The strong undertone of Briceno’s criticism is that the BOCGA is a cliqued organization led by officials who are more interested in the travel and perks of the office as opposed to the real development of sports in the country. There has been no reply to Briceno from the organization nor from Alamilla, a silence which is seemingly characteristic of the BOCGA over the years.
Based on our research, the current Executive is comprised of the President, Hilberto ‘Hilly’ Martinez who is unaffiliated with any local sporting association, a Vice President, Owen ‘Sonny’ Meighan who is affiliated with the Belize Taekwondo Association, the Secretary General, Yolanda Fonseca who is affiliated with the Belize Fencing Association, an Assistant Secretary General, Josephine Flowers who is unaffiliated, and the Treasurer, Giovanni Alamilla from the Belize Triathlon Association. There are also three Executive Members who are Arturo ‘Tux’ Vasquez, from the Belize Table Tennis Association, Herman Pastor from the Belize Karate Association and Alan Sharp from the Belize Volleyball Association. A handful of these Executives have held positions in the BOCGA for decades, some from its inception. We also understand that all current Executive officers will be seeking re-election.
Quite noteworthy is that the three (3) largest, most popular and most active sports in local and regional competitions, namely football, basketball and cycling, are not represented on the current Executive. We were hard pressed to find regular events and, or even worse, any competing athletes for some of the sporting associations that are currently represented on the Executive.
BBN has also been reliably informed that according to the statutes of the organization, only recognized local associations or federations will be participating in the election process. Nominations for the various posts will be taken from the attendees present at the election meeting and each federation or association will be allowed two (2) representatives, but only one (1) vote.
The number of positions being vied for on the Executive is eight (8) and it is anticipated that there will be 16 sporting entities eligible to vote at the election. With control and influence over a large portion of the voting entities, the incumbents may hold a strong advantage making change in the composition of the Executive very difficult.
With the status quo described above, are we in for just more of the same or are we on our way to Olympic dream…you be the judge.
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