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Athletes in Politics: Kaya Cattouse, Kent “Bob” Gabourel running with the Red and Blue

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Posted: Tuesday, March 2, 2021. 2:18 pm CST.

By Ruben Morales Iglesias, Belize City: They normally compete on the road, in the sea, in a ring, on a field, in both national and international events wearing the Red and Blue, and while the colors they now represent are the same, their game is now in the open, in the political arena. They figure that the job needs to get done and they’ve decided to try their hand in the runnings of their cities and towns. How many will be successful is to be seen, but, the good thing is that athletes know that not everybody can win all the time. There is always another day. If not tomorrow Wednesday, March 3, 2021 in the Municipal Elections, other days will come for them to win and make their contribution to our Belizean society.

They are all young and vibrant and for the first time in many a year, this year’s Municipal Elections have attracted quite a number of athletes to the fold.

Kaya Cattouse, Kent “Bob” Gabourel, Amed Figueroa, Zahir Figueroa, Leon Guild, and Tariq Aguilar Cano. All of them, with the exception of Cano, were successful within their party conventions and are in the running on Wednesday.

By far, the most well-known is Kaya Cattouse, who is competing for the PUP in Belize City. Kaya has tried all sports. In all she has, if not excelled, done well. She’s best known as a cyclist, a sport in which she’s been national champion winning a number of Women’s Cross Country rides, national road races, and has represented Belize well internationally, particularly in Mexico, the United States and Guatemala. She’s also involved herself in football, basketball and triathlon, to name a few. Apart from that, while working as a sports coordinator for several years at the National Sports Council, she tried her hand at organizing cycling races for teenagers and school children.

On his Facebook page, Giovanni Alamilla, president of the Belize Triathlon Association, lauded the triathletes who are an integral part of the political race on Wednesday, March 31, 2021. For Alamilla, these young athletes are a good example of what sports can do for our young people.

“I can go on about all the trophies she has won,” Alamilla said in reference to Kaya. “Which are important but not as important as organizing kids and youth cycling summer series. She then added a High School cycling racing series. She also organized a get up and move evening exercise/workout classes.”

Then, there’s Kent “Bob” Gabourel. Originally from Cayo, Bob is a UDP candidate in San Pedro where he has been living for umpteen years. Bob is very active and has moved up the ranks. Coming from a football family (His dad is Kent Gabourel Sr. of Verdes and National Football Team fame.), he started out playing football, moved on to cycling, and finally carving a niche for himself in triathlon competitions. He represented Belize at the British Commonwealth Games first as a triathlete and then as a triathlon coach. Bob is very active in San Pedro organizing sports events for the youth of his community.

Alamilla considers Gabourel to be the most seasoned of the athletes.

“He has represented Belize locally, regionally and internationally as an athlete and a coach,” Alamilla said. “As a coach because he has been able to change the lives of a number of young men and women on the island of Ambergris Caye.”  

Triathlete Leon Guild, who is vying for office as part of the UDP ticket in Belize City, is also a teacher. Additionally, he owns a dojo where he teaches karate, judo and fencing.

According to Alamilla, Amed Figueroa who has joined the UDP in San Ignacio & Santa Elena has also represented Belize locally and internationally. “He has also made his mark in the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena, in regards to getting people off the couch and exercising,” Alamilla said.

There is another cyclist trying his luck in San Ignacio and Santa Elena; another Figueroa. Zahir Figueroa, who is an up-and-coming cyclist, has decided to get involved and has joined the People’s United Party.

In Belmopan, there is cyclist Tariq Aguilar Cano, who is riding blue, but, unfortunately for him, was not elected to the PUP ticket. He has been involved and knows there is another day. He, as well, has represented Belize internationally. A couple years back when the Cycling Association was virtually inactive, he organized his own team ‘CANO,’ and lead a group of Belizean cyclists, which included Kaya and Oscar Quiroz, to the Guatemala Youth Tour where they did extraordinarily well. Tarique is a proactive young man who had a difficult childhood health-wise, but has been able to able to stay afloat and done so successfully.

By Wednesday night, we’ll know if they are successful in this endeavour. We never know, in years to come, one of them might just be our Prime Minister.

“As you can see all of them are multi-talented and dedicated to getting people up and moving. What I especially like is all of them are involved with their own grass roots program that have a direct impact on kids in their area,” Alamilla concluded.

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