Pat Anderson's selfless service to Jamaican sport

Saturday, April 28, 2018

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The Jamaican nation would be far less than it is, had it not been for the work of volunteers.

The evidence is all around in the work of community organisations, neighbourhood watches, school boards, parent/teachers associations, sports groups… we could go on and on.

Indeed, older Jamaicans will testify to a time when the culture of volunteerism was even stronger than it is today.

That culture was pivotal in the birth and development of Boys' Town which, for close to eight decades, has lifted numerous boys in the depressed community of Trench Town and its surroundings from ignorance, hopelessness and despair to positions of enlightenment and leadership in this country.

The legendary cleric, Rev Dr Hugh Sherlock, the exemplary volunteer popularly referred to as Father Sherlock, was instrumental in the development of Boys' Town as a progressive force in the society and in the maturing of disciplined young men who gave of themselves to their community and country.

One such protégé of Father Sherlock was Mr Pat Anderson, who died recently at age 84, having devoted his life to the organisation and administration of sport in Manchester and the wider Jamaica.

Mr Anderson, 'Pops' as he was fondly called, never grew weary of talking about the lessons he learnt at Boys' Town and of the inspiration of Father Sherlock.

Those who knew Mr Anderson readily relate to the quote attributed to him in an obituary written by journalist Mr Paul Reid: “I wanted to be so much like Father Sherlock, who established that great place (Boys' Town), The City of Little Men, as he called it. What he did for youths like me whose parents couldn't afford to send me to schools like St George's College and Jamaica College was just irreplaceable.”

As an administrator, Mr Anderson reached the pinnacle in track and field and football, gaining the presidency of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) and Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and playing key roles in the development of those organisations. Equally, he will be remembered for his generosity — materially and spiritually — in helping to lift others who would have otherwise stayed dormant or sunk lower.

All over Jamaica, but more especially in Manchester and surrounding parishes, there are men and women, not just in sports but in all walks of life, who can testify to the value of Mr Anderson's helping hand.

Simply put, in the words of Olympic gold medallist Mrs Deon Hemmings, Mr Anderson was “a kind man with a good heart”.

And even in his last days, he stayed committed to sport, actively assisting the organisation of track meets and other events in Manchester and also lobbying for an all-weather track at Kirkvine Sports Club, where he invested much time and effort.

As Sport Minister Ms Olivia Grange said of him, “Pat Anderson gave his all to building sports in Jamaica, from the grass roots to the high-performance level.”

Those left behind should know: they must not drop the baton.

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