Posted: Saturday, December 25, 2021. 7:11 am CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Retired football striker Enrique ‘Ricky Gongora who played football in the 80s and 90s was inducted into Belizean American Caribbean Association’s Football Hall of Fame.
Gongora, who was simply known as Ricky in his heyday, was inducted into the New York-based Belizean American Caribbean Football Hall of Fame in September 2017 but just received his award on Sunday, December 12, when he travelled to New York.
Gongora received a plaque and a certificate which was signed by the president of the Belizean American Caribbean Association Wellington Ramos. Other awardees received their recognition on September 10 2017 at Gershwin Park in Brooklyn, New York.
“It’s a good thing because you put all that time into the sport and you just go like that, no recognition left behind, nobody knows who you are after you leave. At least now people can go somewhere and find information about who you were because your name is up there,” Gongora said.
“I think they are doing a good job because they are not only recognizing players. They are also recognizing other people who contributed to the sport,” her said.
Gongora played football before the sport turned semi-professional in 1991 and after as well.
Gongora, who was known for a potent left foot, played for Berger Field area teams, and won at least 13 championships, he said.
He also played internationally at the Concacaf level with Verdes and was also called to the first Belize National Football team that played against Canada. But his soul was Berger.
“My team was from the same base only that it changed names. I started with Berger, then I went to Chito’s, the Witz All-Stars, Belikin, Duurlys, then Duurlys Belikin, then Acros. I played my last season with Yabra,” said Ricky.
Before playing for the Berger teams, Gongora played for the Lake Independence junior club for two seasons starting at the age of 14 in 1974. What’s strange is that he played as a defender, and it was not until he moved up to Berger that he played as a striker. He said that was because there was nobody who read the game and fed him the ball, so he played from defense to be able to construct plays and moved up the field to score.
In 1976, when he was 16, he moved up to Berger and played until 2006 when he was 46.
When he hung up his boots, it was for good. He said that at that level and age, nobody would take care of a player who broke any bones.
Gongora played with a host of well-known players at the time like Jumping Jack Sutherland, Gene Guild, Wayne ‘Horsie’ Cooper, Larry ‘Charro’ Bennett, Anthony ‘Garrincha’ Adderley, Arturo ‘Turo’ Azueta, Arthur ‘Goatman’ Leslie, Kent ‘Gigante’ Skeet, Fabian Rivero, Benedict Lopez, David ‘Manu’ McCaulay, Earl ‘Seven Ton’ Jones, Kenrick ‘Crane’ Major, Arthur ‘Mob’ Flowers, to name some.
“These guys look the same, they look like they don’t want to get old,” Ricky joked.
He also remembered Al Westby, Wellington Ramos, Gregsie Jones, Nolberto Moss, and Enrique Carballo from his days with Chito’s. He said he played with the Chitos from Orange Walk and the Chito’s from Belize City until the association made the rule that if you play in one district you couldn’t play in another district.
For now, Ricky, at 61, is a happily retired footballer.
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