By Wellington C. Ramos
NEW YORK, USA -- On Tuesday, July 1, 2014, word began to spread in New York City about the sudden death of one of Belize’s best football players Maurice Guild, better known as ‘Gene’ Guild and ‘Japanese Bomber’. When people heard the news they refused to believe that it was true and they called other relatives and friends to confirm if it was in fact true. In the end, the news was confirmed and many Belizeans contacted his family to get the information about his burial and funeral arrangements.
Maurice 'Gene' Guild
The viewing and funeral service was held at Saint Albans Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, New York City on Monday, July 7. The church was packed to capacity and many people had to sit in the basement or remain outside to pay their last respects to him. Many of his relatives and friends shared their experiences with this outstanding human being, who was loving, caring, supportive and a role model. After the funeral service the people had a chance to meet with relatives, friends and former football players who they have not seen for many years.
The following Tuesday morning, many Belizeans took time off from work to return to the same church to attend his funeral. The service was brief and they proceeded to Cypress Hill Cemetery in Brooklyn, where his body was laid to rest. After they left the cemetery, they then stopped by his home to spend some time with his family. Gene migrated to New York City in the early 1980s and continued playing football for Starwars, Belway and Ubafu, with whom he won a championship in the Honduran Football League.
His dream was always to share his knowledge of this sport with younger people so that he could assist them in developing their knowledge and playing of the game. Two years ago, Gene Guild, Robert Melendez (better known as “Mole”), Salomon Flores, Michael Ellis, Derrick Lopez, Errol Flores, some other former football players and myself got together and we founded the Belizean American Caribbean Football Association Inc. soccer league. The purpose of this league is to teach young children how to appreciate, learn all the fundamentals of football and play the sport.
We all came to the conclusion, that the Belizean footballers are dying out and we do not have enough young Belizeans in New York City playing the sport to replace them. Shortly after we founded the league, another football legend “Mugga” Garbutt died and we had to honour him in a grand celebration on Belize Day in September at Gershwin Park in Brooklyn. Our intentions remain intact and we are planning to do the same this year for him another football legend.
Gene also coached some teams in Brooklyn during his involvement with this sport. I have not met a man who had the passion for the sport of football like Gene and wanted to do something in his lifetime to improve the quality of the game especially for his country Belize. We travelled to Connecticut last year to see the Belize National team play Cuba and it was an embarrassing defeat. We spoke about it and our dream is to teach young Belizeans in New York City this sport of football, who will one day represent our country in the World Cup. He was one of the youngest Belizean football players to play in the senior division and the country’s national team.
He was also selected as one of the players to attend a coaching school in Mexico to help develop football in Belize. For most of his years, Gene played for one of Belize’s most competitive team Berger-404 with his friend Cristobal Mayen, another football legend.
I played against Gene Guild when I played for Police Invaders, Chito’s Eleven and the All Orange Walk Selection in the 1970s. I also played with him in New York City with Belway and Ubafu. He was one of the players you wanted to play with and not against. His passion and determination to score goals was like a hungry lion looking for meat. After Berger-404 split in 1977, Chito’s Eleven reigned for a short period and Berger continued as one of Belize’s top teams.
Gene will remain in all of our thoughts for the contributions he made to football, music and our lives.