This ceremony is of special significance to me, both personally and as a former sports administrator. It marks the culmination of years of commitment and dedication to the erection of a monument to one of Saint Lucia’s greatest ever sportsmen: Francis Mindoo Phillip, a man who earned the adulation of Saint Lucian sports fans for generations, spanning the fifties and sixties into the early seventies, for his tremendous achievements as cricketer and footballer, coach and sports organiser.
At this stage I wish to acknowledge the presence of Helen Phillip, wife of our departed Mindoo, and her family. I am fortunate to have been personally involved with Mindoo, both as a footballer and cricketer in my early years, as well as a sports administrator and later on as Mayor of Castries, when I featured in having this sports facility named after him.
Happily, his sports fans of those years have not stopped short of immortalizing him by the naming of the Mindoo Phillip Park. They have gone further and erected this fantastic monument in his honour to ensure that the efforts of our local hero will serve as a beacon for our sportsmen, young and old.
This is certainly a labour of love and appreciation. And for this I must extend my sincerest thanks and congratulations to those persons who worked so assiduously over the years since his death to bring this monument to fruition. To Dunstan DuBoulay, chairman of the committee, who worked so zealously over the past years to present the world with this magnificent edifice. Never an avid sportsman, Dunstan’s involvement was fired by the deep friendship of his family, especially his father, who were Mindoo’s admirers and supporters.
It was Dunstan who almost singlehandedly pursued this quest, for the erection of this edifice, over the years, and its completion is testament to his commitment and sense of purpose. To Dunstan and his team, McDonald Dixon, Tyrone Maynard, Rupert Branford and the other members, I say, “Well Done!” for their sterling efforts.
Special mention must be made of the late Stanley French, writer and regional engineer, who pioneered this project, but sadly passed on before the realization of this monument. At this juncture I wish to acknowledge the presence in our midst of Mrs. Elaine French, widow of our late, respected and lamented Stanley French. Stanley, as an author, has immortalized Mindoo in two of his literary works. In one, he described the adulation with which Mindoo was held by Saint Lucians of all stripes.
He wrote: “I think of a frail grandmother nearing eighty, now dead. I am about to leave our house to go to the park to see a cricket match which will be broadcast over a local station rigged up solely for that occasion. She asks me, before I leave, to ensure that the tuning needle of the radio is set on the station so that when Mindoo comes to the wicket she will merely have to switch on the radio with the volume control. “And this woman, as far as I know, never attended a cricket match in all her years. The frail old woman turns the off/on control and the commentator announces that the incoming batsman is Mindoo Phillip. He emerges from the tunnel of the Cadet Pavilion. The park erupts with applause. As was the fashion with many players up to the 1950s, a necktie laces the tabs of his cream trousers.
“Mike, alias ‘The Human Radio’ (deceased) gives ball by ball commentaries fuelled with alcohol through cupped hands to the under-the-pavilion crowd, escorts Mindoo on part of his journey to the wicket. The batsman’s walk is apparently heavy but padded. A fevered migration from town to the park gates begins. Trees outside the ground, but towering above its coconut branch-cum-galvanize enclosure, sway and groan under their burden of freeness spectators. Spectators hugging the boundary, gleefully wait to return the ball to mid-field so that Mindoo will oblige by hitting it across or over the line again.”
Mindoo, in his time embodied the hopes and aspirations of all young sports persons, island-wide, as one who came from the ranks to dominate the scene of the so-defined upper classes. And above all his efforts, were his massive contributions to the development of sport in Saint Lucia, initially as groundsman, cricketer and national captain, to national coach, footballer and organiser.
I am extremely heartened by the fact that, with the erection of this monument, we have shown that ours is not a dead heroes society. My fondest wish is that those of our up-and-coming outstanding sports persons will continue to be accorded some recognition, maybe not as grandiose, but sufficient to inspire them to give of their very best for love of sport and country.
Editor’s note: The preceding was delivered last Saturday by Sir Julian R. Hunte, at the dedication of a monument in honour of Mindoo Phillip.