SPHS female football team are NSSSA’s National Football Tournament Champions
Monday, February 20th, 2017
For the first time in San Pedro history, the San Pedro High School’s (SPHS) female football team are the reigning champions of the National Secondary School Sporting Association (NSSSA) 2017 National Football Tournament. Organized by the NSSSA and hosted by SPHS, the two-day tournament took place at the new Ambergris Stadium on Friday, February 17th and Saturday, February 18th.
There were four teams participating in the female division and four in the male division. The female teams were: SPHS-North; Saint Catherine Academy (SCA)-Central; Belmopan Comprehensive School (BCS)-West; and Julian Cho Technical High School (JCTHS)-South. The male teams were: Orange Walk Technical High School (OWTHS)-North; Gwen Lizarraga High School-GLHS-Central; BCS-West, and Stann Creek Ecumenical College (SCEC)-South.
Prior to the first games on Friday, February 17th, an official opening ceremony began at 3PM. Master of Ceremonies Phillip Ramsey warmly welcomed the audience as he introduced the eight teams, which lined up across the field. After establishing protocol, SPHS students played a flute rendition of the National Anthem. An invocation by Pastor Clive Welsh of Lighthouse Radio Ministries followed as he wished all the teams the best of health and fun throughout the competition.
Mayor Daniel Guerrero of San Pedro Town then gave his welcome address. “It is a privilege to be hosting these games for our young footballers across Belize. Football has managed to naturally unite people. Sometimes it makes you forget some of life’s challenges. You have the ability to reach to the height of your talent. I advise the team players to not only be good players, but great players. Good players inspire themselves, while great players inspire others,” said Guerrero. He closed his speech by wishing the teams the best of luck and encouraging them to enjoy themselves, while playing fairly.
Guest speaker Maximiliano Riverol gave a brief motivational speech. “Football was and is still my passion. Competitive sports with the spirit of fair play prepares for many of life’s challenges. You are all champions and we are here to get the champion of champions. I leave you with a valuable quote-the more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning,” said Riverol.
NSSSA Vice President, Gilbert Cummings proceeded with a few remarks. He then presented Riverol with an award on behalf of NSSSA in recognition of his commitment to secondary school children. At 3:30PM, the first game saw the female teams of JCTHS taking on BCS. JCTHS defeated BCS 2-0 with goals by Sylvia Pan and Normalee Gomez. In the second game, BCS male football team faced SCEC. It was a tight match for both teams, but BCS defeated SCEC 4-3 in a penalty shootout in the end.
SPHS’ female football team was matched up against SCA in the third game. With much fan support for SPHS, the girls easily defeated their opponent 2-0, with goals by Ada Cordova and Princess Bailey of San Pedro. In the final match of the night, OWTHS and GLHS had their chance at facing one another, and in the end, OWTHS were victorious with a final score of 4-2.
The tournament continued on Saturday with third place matches starting at 9AM. In the first game, BCS females defeated SCA 2-0, with goals from Jayda Brown and Ashley Rodriguez of BCS. In the second game, SCEC male football team had a triumphant victory over GLHS, winning 9-1. SPHS female football team then faced JCTHS in the championship match. Esther Galeano of SPHS scored two goals to the delight of the crowd. In the second half, Dominga Tiul of JCTHS scored, driving SPHS rigorously attempt to score another goal before their opponent could. However, time ran out and SPHS girls secured the win 2-1. The historic moment had the team players crowding the field in excitement. The last game of the day saw BCS’s male team drawing with OWTHS. At the end of regulation and extra time, the score was tied at 1-1 with goals from Alexis Chan of OWTHS and Jalen Myers of BCS. BCS won 4-3 in a penalty shootout.
After the championship games had been won, organizers held an awards ceremony to officially end the tournament. Sports Coordinator at SPHS Paul Kelly congratulated all the teams for their participation, before the NSSSA Committee proceeded to hand out awards. The fourth place SCA female team and GLHS male team captains received a trophy for their participation. The BCS female team and SCEC received medals and a trophy for third place. The sub-champions, JCTHS female team and OWTHS male team received medals and a second place trophy. The grand moment of the ceremony was awarding the first place trophy and medals to the champions of the NSSSA National Football Tournament—SPHS female and BCS male football team!
Individual awards were then given issued out to the best players throughout the tournament. SPHS claimed four trophies: Lisandra Novelo-Best Goal Keeper, Esther Galeano- Best Striker, and Ada Cordova-Most Valuable Player and Best Goal Keeper. As a tribute to their win, the SPHS girls performed a victory dance with the male champions-BCS male football team!
After scoring both goals on Saturday’s game, SPHS team player Galeano expressed her thoughts on the win. “I am really happy, especially for my senior teammates. This has never been achieved before at SPHS, and they will be able to graduate with this athletic honor. I am proud of myself and my team. All of us have put a lot of effort in practicing, and I give thanks to all of my coaches. All of us on the team played an important role in winning,” said Galeano.
In an effort to honor the historic win, SPHS’s marching band led a parade throughout San Pedro Town on Monday, February 20th. The female football team showcased their trophy and medals on a float truck as the community cheered them on. SPHS gives thanks to all of their sponsors who made this tournament a success: The San Pedro Town Council, Sol, Bowen and Bowen, Crystal, NSSSA, SPHS teachers, students, and fans. The San Pedro Sun congratulates the girls on their victory. Keep up the great work!
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