By Neto Baptiste
During what has been described by many as an illustrious and influential tenure in community sports and development Luther Lee, a stalwart within the Villa community, would have positively impacted the lives of many young men and women he would have come in contact with.
Former president of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and a former general secretary for the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), Gordon Derrick, is one such individual and according to the former administrator, he would utilised a number of things he learnt from Lee during his own tenure.
“I have something in my arsenal called the Luther philosophy and it has never failed me; never. Don’t care what I am in I would say, ‘how would Luther handle this situation?’ And I would sit back and pull [on my chin] like I have beard, because that’s what he would do to us. When we sat down together on the gallery, and he looks up in the air and people have always wanted to know what my secret is, but it has always been Luther Lee,” he said.
“I have never said it before, but every time I wanted to go and talk to Luther, I never got the chance but something just told me I have to call and big up Luther. He is the one who encouraged us to think independently and to think outside of the box and don’t just follow the masses, you are not a sheep,” Derrick added.
Also singing Lee’s praises was former national and Villa Lions footballer, Garfield Gonsalves, who said that after losing his father at an early age, Lee became a father figure.
“My father died when I was six and as Luther said, divine, because when I look back I had about 100 fathers, so growing up I never wanted for anything. But the man that Luther, he was futuristic. When I left from Canada when the school called me and said they wanted me to go to college, Luther said to me, just go. There was no money, not one cent, but I graduated from college because you cannot put a stumbling block in front of Luther because he is going to kick it down. And I can’t imagine life without Luther, Batow [Everton Gonsalves] and so many other men around me,” the former defender said.
President of the Antigua Turf Club and a former CFU general secretary, Neil Cochrane, also commended Lee for his contribution to community and the development of the young men and women therein.
“Luther said, ‘Neil, what are you waiting for so long?’ I asked Luther, where am I getting money from to go to university? Luther said, ‘just go; find the first year and just go, and once you find the first year, then everything else will come’. And that is exactly the philosophy. There is no barrier that can’t be overcome and after going the first year, from there on I received many scholarships which helped me to pay for my own education. So without the prodding of Luther, I probably would have just continued to work and not pursued higher education,” he said.
Lee played an important role in the birth and success of the Villa Lions scholarship programme that saw a number of players benefitting from scholarships to the Wesleyan University in the USA. He is also well known for spearheading the erection of lights at many sporting venues across Antigua.