Posted: Monday, June 12, 2023. 9:33 pm CST.
Photo Credit: Progresso FC
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: After qualifying twice to the Premier League of Belize (PLB) semifinals with a purely Belizean club, coach Charlie Slusher is parting ways with Progresso. Up to a few days ago, everything seemed ok, but something happened over the last few days, and Slusher is moving on. He said he has an offer, but he hasn’t announced which team he is going to be coaching next season.
“Not sure as yet,” Slusher told Breaking Belize News.
“I have not signed with anyone as yet but by the end of the week I should have a better idea, but it would be one of the teams that has the proper structure and resources available to ensure we are not just contenders but can win it all.”
As much as he achieved with Progresso, the reality is that the majority of Belizean clubs don’t have the infrastructure nor the resources that professional teams require, much less the know-how that is required to organize well, access funds, and know the in-and-outs of how Concacaf/Uncaf operate internationally. A man with the experience that Slusher has will not only look for that but is also going to expect better conditions.
Only a couple of clubs can provide that for Slusher: Verdes, though he has insinuated that that’s not where he is headed, Altitude (but they along with the San Pedro Pirates have allegedly asked the PLB for permission to sit out the upcoming tournament), and the Pirates themselves. Though the Pirates reportedly asked for that permission, word has it that the team has been sold to a foreigner who has what it takes to lead them to the Promised Land.
If not any of those three, that would leave Port Layola, Bandits, Benque Viejo United, and Wagiya. Port has surprised all and has put the old Capital back in the PLB limelight, but like Progresso, they are new to the PLB though they do have a number of people at the helm and within the club that have ‘been there, done that’. When told by Ian Gaynair to ‘come home’, Slusher answered ‘I am home already taught you knew that already’. Was that ‘the answer’ or was he just playing with words?
Bandits are rebuilding but have won nine national championships, so they have the know-how and have certainly ‘been there, done that’, too. And recently. Benque Viejo United are playing at the PLB leasing the Police United franchise, so they have know-how through that connection. Wagiya, the oldest club along with Verdes know how to survive but have had financial constraints which have kept them from hiring a top coach and quality players to replace the ‘bleeding’ they’ve suffered from the other clubs that have been able to attract their lifeline players.
So, take your pick.
One of Slusher’s aspirations is to be the head coach of the Belize Men’s National Team, but in answer to a comment he said he hopes his day will come but it’s not now. Lately, he’s been critical of the Football Federation of Belize’s (FFB) handling of the National Teams Programme, so that door still appears closed. He has been at the helm of the BMNT but only in an interim capacity under the previous FFB management.
Slusher leaves Progresso but doesn’t close the door. After all, football goes in circles. As they say, what goes around, comes around. And he certainly has a wealth of experience. So, you don’t burn bridges.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank Marco Novelo and his brothers, Management, coaching staff, players, our loyal fans and all who contributed to the team’s success in such a short time,” he said in a statement which he posted to social media on Friday, June 9.
“This was all made possible because of the hard work, dedication and sacrifice made by all the players. A new opportunity for me to continue my work as a coach have come up and so I think the time have come for me to move on and to take on that new challenge in the highest level of football in Belize and hopefully make way for someone else to now lead Progresso FC in a different direction. Thanks”
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