How did this happen? How did one of our football players get onto an exclusive list that includes the likes of Pele? Something like this can’t happen. We are too small. We don’t win big games. How?
Certainly the bureaucratic brilliance of CIFA president Jeffrey Webb had a lot to do with it. And certainly the fact that Lee Ramoon really is a very good player helped. But something more won it for him, something beneath the surface.
Ramoon won this award not for any particular goal scored or game won. He won it little by little over many years, mostly in ways no one noticed. Here are some of those ways:
He won it when as a little boy he decided to be a footballer and not a criminal.
He won it every time he studied for exams late into the night, unsure if he would pass, but unwilling to give up.
He won it every time he was in the 89th minute of a lost game that nobody cared about but ignored burning lungs and dead legs to play on with all he had.
He won it every time he swallowed a referee’s bad call and resisted the urge to strike out with violence or vulgarity.
That is how a Caymanian won FIFA’s Centennial Order of Merit.
So, what now, Mr. Ramoon? You are the toast of the town, a local legend with a fancy FIFA medal to show your grandchildren one day. Your glory days are written in stone. You are smart enough and connected enough to get rich, maybe even rise in politics one day.
But would that be enough, in light of the profound good you might be able to do?
The man who pinned the FIFA medal on you, George Weah, was a great footballer. His humanitarian work, however, made him an even greater human being. You too can reach for greatness, not the imagined kind of money and power, but the real greatness that only comes from making the world a better place.
Don’t climb inside your memories and watch your relevance dim. Let Weah’s way be your way.
Sports Editor Guy P. Harrison is at[email protected]