Today’s Editorial: A chance for greatness

One of Cayman’s greatest athletes is set to enjoy the crowning glory of his football career this weekend.

Lee Ramoon of George Town will be awarded FIFA’s Centennial Order of Merit Saturday in a ceremony at Pedro St. James. The event coincides with Ramoon’s 40th birthday. FIFA gives the Centennial Order of Merit to players around the world who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of football.

Given the many goals Ramoon has scored over the last few decades, most sports fans are well aware of his accomplishments. But what is important to understand about his career is that it is something far greater than the sum of goals scored and games won. The football legacy of Lee Ramoon is a work of art as much for its on-field success as for its off-field class and dignity.

Ramoon has consistently excelled as a team leader, role model, and sports ambassador for the Cayman Islands. In addition to his nose for the net, he is coachable, likable, articulate and thoughtful. He is close to representing the blueprint for a perfect player.

It is fitting that Ramoon’s 40th birthday falls on Saturday. One might assume that his big gift will be the prestigious FIFA award, but that surely will mean less than the memories he carries, memories of struggles, wins, losses, and friends made throughout his career.

Cayman Islands Football Association President Jeffrey Webb has arranged for a very special man to present Ramoon with his award Saturday. Liberian George Weah, FIFA’s Player of the Year for 1995, is scheduled to make the presentation. The former superstar has the credentials to impress any football fan, of course, but he brings so much more. Weah has attacked injustice and poverty in his homeland. He is one of the rare superstars in sports whose good deeds outshine the considerable glare of triumphs in the arena. With his nation ravaged by years of civil war and corruption, it would have been so easy for Weah to climb inside the cocoon of wealth and live happily ever after 10,000 miles away from Liberia’s pain. But he chose embrace his home, problems and all, and give himself to its future. He works tirelessly for Liberia’s children and the dream of peace.

When Ramoon shakes the hand of George Weah, the Cayman star might consider how he can use his considerable passion and popularity to uplift his country, just as Weah is doing in his country. Cayman is a country at peace but there are challenges here that Ramoon can tackle and give himself to. Ramoon can use his clout as a local football giant to push for improvements in education, early childcare, rights of lower income workers, tougher environmental regulations, etc.

For in the end, if we want our lives to count, Weah’s way is the only way.

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