By Neto Baptiste
Two of the country’s major sports associations have paid homage to the late former prime minister and National Hero, Sir Lester Bryant Bird, who died on Monday.
In separate social media posts, both the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) and the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), expressed condolences to the family and friends of the former national athlete, adding that his contribution to their respective disciplines and to sports in general are well known.
The cricket association noted that Sir Lester served as a president of the organisation in the past and, at one point, was one of the country’s top fast bowlers who could have gone on to represent the West Indies.
“Sir Lester was a past president of the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association, and was passionate about and committed to the game of cricket,” the post said.
Meanwhile, the football association also expressed its condolences to the friends and family of the former PM, heralding his contribution to the sport of football.
“Sir Lester was instrumental in enabling the ABFA to acquire those lands on which our headquarters, ABFA house, sits,” the FA said.
The body said that flags will fly at half-mast at the Paynters facility in honour of Sir Lester.
Despite his deep involvement in politics, Sir Lester’s passion for sports was evident at a young age.
As a youth cricketer, he played for the Leeward Islands and was also a long jump champion. Sir Lester won a bronze medal in the long jump at the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago, while representing the British West Indies.
The Antiguan, who succeeded his late father, Sir Vere Cornwall Bird, in becoming the country’s second prime minister in 1994, attended the University of Michigan, where he was All-American long jumper in 1960 and graduated in 1962.