By Neto Baptiste
Former administrator and a “father figure” to many within the Point and Villa communities in the late ‘70s through to the early 20s, Luther Lee, said his decision to join the Villa football fraternity was the start of something great and led to the start of what turned into a very success scholarship programme with the Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Lee explained that he moved to Villa after being voted out as head of the Gambles Sports Club.
“I must say the first person who encouraged me to come to Villa was ‘Batow’ [Everton Gonsalves], and he was just breaking into the team at the time and he knew what I did in Gambles so he told me I should come. Geoff Gomes, he was my brother, not biological but we were both ministers’ children and he went to Guadeloupe because there was an exchange programme in those days where students from Antigua would go to Guadeloupe and have the situation reciprocated,” he said.
“He came back with a ball that was like magnet to me and we made that ball hop. We woke up early in the morning and we gone to kick that ball, come back in the afternoon and kick that ball and so the love for the game started right there.”
Lee, who is also known for erecting lights at many sporting venues across Antigua, revealed that Gomes, who had eventually gone to Wesleyan University, was the main force behind the scholarship programme and that all he had to do was make sure things ran smoothly on this end.
“He [Gomes] sent me the programme down and we advertised it and we had the training session at [St Joseph’s Academy]. We started with about 300 and came down to about 10 and we chose Warrior Benjamin and Batow,” the former administrator said.
“I believe that because of the exploits of Batow over there, it opened a door that they just looked to us for this programme and to have people fit into the slots. We now realised what was happening and so we had to get our end down here strengthened and that we did so the rest is history.”
On a lighter side, however, Lee revealed that he was more of a cricketer than a footballer, boasting of a hattrick he once claimed while playing Parish League cricket.
“If you ask me, I played much better cricket than football but the first time I saw a football it was some time around 1964 when Tyrone ‘Pacer’ Williams, he had some brothers and their father lived in England and he sent them home a ball and some boots and that’s the first time I ever saw football being played in Bolans. You guys connect me to football and I am grateful for that but guess what, even right now I listen to all the cricket; I am a cricket fanatic, I love cricket,” he said.
Former general secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), Gordon “Banks” Derrick, President of the Antigua Turf Club, Neil Cochrane, ABFA president, Everton “Batow” Gonsalves and former national footballer, Sowerby Gomes, all credited Lee with playing influential roles in their upbringing.