By Neto Baptiste
We are often told that those among us who dedicate their lives to serving others should be given their flowers while they are alive.
Well, a number of parents of young footballers stayed true to that belief on Tuesday as they paid homage to former national and Villa Lions defender Sowerby Gomes, for his work with the country’s young footballers via the Villa Lions Soccer Academy (VLSA).
Gomes, who appeared on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, has been the engine behind the longstanding academy for many moons and continues, sometimes on his own, to work with young players on a weekly basis.
A mother of two young players who attended the soccer academy remembered how Gomes convinced her eldest son not to give up on the game after he had become disheartened after just a few sessions.
“The eight year old got disillusioned and said I am not going back because the people don’t pass the ball, and this and that, and I called Sowerby and Sowerby said I’ll call him. Sowerby called the child and whatsoever he said to him, the child came and said, ‘mommy I am going back’, and that child eventually rose to play for Antigua under-14 and Antigua under-15s and so I just want to commend him. He is not just a coach, he is an awesome role model,” she said.
Another parent remembered the discipline Gomes helped to instill in her son.
“I have a son who is now 20 years of age, and he went to the soccer club when he was small and what I observed was the discipline that group instilled in the children, not only on the field. My son carried that discipline, also, in school [and] the way he dresses. So, I just want to say publicly, this is the Gordon family and Sowerby, we just want to say thank you for how you have instilled good morals into our son,” the mother said.
Asked why he continues to give of his time voluntarily, the former player said the game has done much for him and where he is in life today, and he simply just wants to do the same for others.
“When you do something out of love, it comes natural so the sport has given me so much that giving back is just a mere consideration of what I am doing. Sometimes, I also do quite a bit of reading and there is one particular writer known as Nelson Henderson, and he says the true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you expect to sit,” he said.
“There is meaning in what he is saying in that, we can bring to our lives when we take action [responsibility] for something greater than ourselves,” he added.
Gomes continues to host his camps on Saturdays at the Antigua Grammar School compound.