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Kaya Cattouse – My perspective on cycling in Belize

Posted: Thursday, February 8, 2018. 6:38 p.m. CST.

By Kaya Cattouse: What do you do when the federation that governs your sport seemingly only seeks to be in office just to have it on paper that they are the people in charge? Whenever you seek answers through the proper media, you are ignored.

The minute you make your questions public, and many people become aware of the situation and even comment on it, it’s only then you are heard. It is a oppressive feeling, knowing that the people who govern the sport you are so passionate about, and the people in which your faith lies as it relates to competing internationally, will not even take one minute to respond to rational questions. I have tried on numerous occasions to understand why things happen the way they do. I am one hundred percent sure that absolutely nothing is wrong with my comprehension skills or my disposition. I have been involved in the sport of cycling from early childhood – following my dad as he raced all over Mexico. I have been competing from the age of 12, I am registered member of the cycling association here in Belize since 2011 – when I became seriously interested in cycling. Being around the sports and observing all its ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ over the past seven years has pushed me to do many things.

The most important is opening avenues for the development of the sport via two annual cycling events for youths between the ages of 3-18 years.

Both these events have nurtured the talent of young aspiring Belizean cyclists and as a consequence we have seen more youths, whether male or female, participating at this level. I have become an advocate for women and youth cyclists, who in my opinion and the opinion of many others are given an unfair share.

For as long as I can remember, the number of female cyclist racing in this country has been ‘microscopic’. Instead of finding ways to encourage participation and build female participation, the federation seemingly finds ways to discourage the few of us that do exist. I just want to ride my bike, and live a happy, healthy and productive life.

Of course, for the average individual this is challenging, let alone a ‘professional amateur’ athlete governed by men who insists on making decisions based on their personal opinions and emotions. As far as I know, a constitution is set in place to state clearly the precedents by which an organization should be governed.

If we have a constitution and still don’t acknowledge it, aren’t we then breaching such precedents? As a cyclist, if I am considered by the federation to be in breach of the code of conduct, actions will be taken, and most likely subsequently suspended.

On the other hand, when the federation does not uphold their end of the agreement and does not follow their own constitution, what is being done? Cycling elections are long overdue. We have no idea WHEN it will be, WHERE it will be, WHO is running for office, WHAT are their plans, etc. All these are just questions floating in the air that seemingly only the Trinity can answer. As it relates to the current federation….am I happy with the way they are managing and developing cycling in this country?…NO! But what can I do? I still want to be an athlete and be competitive, not ready to hang up my bike and start managing….and sad reality is that until someone steps up who is ready to take over, absolutely nothing will be done. Will voicing my opinion dampen my chances of representing Belize….MAYBE. But what should I do? Ride the tide like brainwashed Belizeans following behind politicians just to get a half ‘mek’ smile? As much as I love this sport, I also love myself and have always been a firm believer of standing up and speaking out for what I believe in. I have never addressed the federation with nonsense. My sentiments are always well thought out and well put together.

Two years ago in February, I can clearly remember dealing with an issue in the eyes of the media pertaining to the federation and one of their races. After going through the whole nine yards, the same issue reoccurred last year in February and without a doubt is reoccurring AGAIN this year in February. It is now cemented! I am hearing the message loud and clear! They won’t hear you. They won’t cater to the minority. They won’t try to accommodate all categories of cyclist in having a tour!

As long as they are in office it will be “do as we say or you don’t have to ride a bike at all” – the level of tyranny is devastating. Why do I wake up at 4:00 a.m. every morning to ride a bike? Why do I spend so much time away from my family on dangerous highways training? Why do I spend all the money I make on cycling? Why? Why am I a registered member of a federation that does nothing for you more than throw some measly races every other month? Why? – because unlike the regular individuals, I actually have dreams of racing at the Olympics 2020. There is an innate desire to achieve something for all the time, effort, family and all the things that have been sacrificed.

Receiving the rewards from all the dedication, discipline, hard work and all the ‘let downs’ in life will be so much sweeter, when at the end, you know that you didn’t just sit back and pray it would happen; you expended all your energies and played an active role in ensuring that you can at least follow your dreams. I’m not asking the federation to do anything more than what they are mandated to do.

This thing is simple….

 

  1. Follow the constitution. Let the future of the members be in the best interest of the federation.

 

  1. Plan and execute races more frequently. A classic once a month isn’t cutting it. Have Thursday races and Saturday races where cyclist race for registration money at least. Throw in some Sunday races every now and again.

 

  1. Consider the minorities. Women and youth need to be given more attention. Find ways in which ongoing developmental programs can be held to garner more women and youth to participate in the sport. Have tours for us when you have tours for the elites, the officials are already on the ITT and Criterium routes…what is so hard to put two more categories of cyclists out there.

 

  1. Be considerate with registration fees. This year I notice that even the youths (15 years and under) are being charged an annual registration fee and race registration fee. Why is this a new practice? The sport is already expensive as is, some of these young men don’t even have funds to attend to their machines much less pay registration. If we are trying to develop the youths and build the sport, this definitely starts from the youths, there has to be some ‘give and take’.

 

  1. National Team Selection….come up with a method to select the team and follow it. The selection cannot be based on the opinion of the members of the federation. If cyclists have a criteria at least they can be prepared and have a plan to execute in hopes of making the cut. It’s disheartening when the team is announced and you don’t make it and you can’t even look at the criteria and know where you failed to execute.

 

  1. Communicate with members. Communication is everything. Have meetings regularly, utilize social media, answer member’s concerns, and acknowledge the concerns of your members. It’s not a dictatorship, loosen up a bit.

Cycling is one of the sports that can bring great triumphs to Belize, the abundance of talented cyclists in this country is overwhelming. We are at a level where if given the proper attention, we can turn our dreamers into doers and our amateurs into professionals. Being on a federation requires a vast amount of one’s time, efforts, dedication and expertise. There is a whole lot more that can be done, can we please do it.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

Kaya C. Cattouse is a member of the C-Ray Cycling Club. She comes from a family of cyclists and is the 2016 female cross country champion. Kaya is currently employed at the National Sports Council.

© 2018, BreakingBelizeNews.com. This article is the copyrighted property of Breaking Belize News. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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