Sun, Jul


The first footballer I can remember seeing in the flesh is Leon Carpette.

It was a sunny afternoon at the Queen’s Park Oval. I was less than 10 years old. And I can’t with any certainty say what was the game and who Carpette was playing for. But in my childish imagination he stood out, physically. I remember a tall red man with a big Afro and his socks down to his ankles.

This was sometime in the mid to late seventies and that look was somewhat fashionable. And I knew he was a sort of important player from what my father told me.

So in a week that has already been filled with so much loss for so many people, it is with sadness I learned of the difficult plight that this former national player now faces.

Since October last year “Nab” Carpette, 68, has been battling the effects of a stroke, in fact more than one. His situation has deteriorated further this week.

Sickness and hard times don’t seem to spare any one of us. At some stage we have adversity to face. And right now, Carpette is having a time of trouble. So remember him. And where possible, do what you can to support.

The public will get that opportunity on November 6 when the Valiants Sports Club hosts a Benefit Brunch at the Pleasantville Community Centre on Prince Albert Street for “a most pleasant personality.” That is how one of Nab’s friends, Adrian Chandler describes him.

On the field, Carpette was one of those who contributed to some of the memories followers of the game in the seventies hold dear.

“He was a sturdy midfielder, a good reader of the game...He was dependable and reliable,” Veteran Footballers Foundation (VFOTT) president Selby Browne recalls.

“His distribution was accurate and he used his height to full advantage as a good header of the ball.”

Carpette used those skills first and briefly, for the San Fernando Technical Football team that began a famous run of InterCol and League triumphs in 1969 and which stretched out to 1972. But Carpette’s physical skills also served the national team well, especially the celebrated squad that played in the 1973 Concacaf World Cup qualifying tournament in Haiti. That team was led by Selwyn Murren and included the outstanding Warren Archibald, Everald “Gally” Cummings and Steve David. Carpette’s passes certainly would have helped those fellows to do their thing.

When he was not wearing T&T colours, Carpette was making a name for himself with Telco in the Southern Football Association (SAFA) and also represented SAFA in inter-league competition. He would also have figured in North-South clashes and turned out for Paragon and then San Fernando Strikers in the short-lived ASL professional football league. Later on, Carpette began his association with Valiants.

Fact is, he was part of the football “happy days,” for many of you, a contributor to the good memories of your youth.

There is no accurate way to quantify what impact experiences from activities like sport can have on our well-being. But as I’m sure you can testify, dear reader, they certainly do a whole lot for us, years after they occurred. It is the same with culture. Excuse me, but I had to find a way to mention the mightiness of the Shadow, Winston Bailey, no longer among us. But at least audio technology will allow that calypso legend to keep giving sage wisdom and heart-warming humour through splendid rhythm. When it comes to sport though, there is a challenge.

Printed, not to mention video archive material is not so efficient for the era in which men like Carpette played. It therefore remains a challenge to give proper recognition in the present to the contribution of athletes from the decades before the 21st century. And because of the inevitable disconnect that results, rallying support for them in their times of need is doubly difficult.

Browne’s Foundation has been striving manfully to assist senior members of the football fraternity.

“We have embarked on receiving a container of medical appliances such as walkers, hospital beds, etc to facilitate the membership,” he says, adding that VFOTT has also established an insurance plan for its members.

Good on them.

The truth is however, as much as well-wishers may try, not all situations can be catered for as adequately as would be hoped.

But Leon Carpette and those like “Nab” need to know they haven’t been forgotten.

Show him on November 6.  

SOURCE: T&T Express