ALL FOR ONE: Mourners look on as pall bearers transport young James to his final resting place.
Hailing from as many different ‘families’ as he did, it came as no surprise that Saturday morning’s thanksgiving service to celebrate the life and fantastic achievements of shining football star Dominic James was jam-packed with tributes. The mammoth crowd that turned up at the Holy Trinity Cathedral on North Street (filling the large church and the white tents outside) to pay their final respects to the St. George’s College Manning Cup captain, heard glowing testimonies from relatives, coaches, former team-mates and former teachers, during a service that was equal parts joyous and spirit-lifting, solemn and reflective.
St. George’s College head coach Neville Bell and his counterpart at Jamaica College (which James attended prior to transferring), Miguel Coley, led the way, remembering Dominic as a born leader whose passion and commitment to the sport, not to mention his work ethic, inspired his team-mates and made him a consistently reliable and dominant force to be reckoned with on the field.
As we also heard, Dominic won football titles at almost every level of the sport in Jamaica – the Manning Cup trophy, the Olivier Shield, the FLOW Super Cup and, years earlier, at the Under-15 level with such popular clubs as Barbican FC, before being selected for the Under-20 programme at Waterhouse. He was a Reggae Boyz Under-20 invitee at the time of his passing.
Academically, he was no slouch when it came to his studies, racking up passes in eight subjects at the CXC level and eight in CAPE. Seldom, if ever, was he seen wearing a frown. His radiant smile, an aunt told the congregation, drew people in. “When he smiled at you, you always felt like he communicated something to you,” Valrey Neil said.
Dominic’s parents, David and Denese James, weren’t strong enough to grace the podium, but the rest of the obviously large nuclear family, dutifully filled in. God-siblings Ariel and Kristopher gave the scripture reading; cousins Camille and Jonathan and aunt Marian Kelly harmoniously sang “Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer”; uncles Peter James and Samuel James (fighting back tears) and aunt Shirlette Thomas-Gooden also saluted their nephew who “was happy with his life” and put them in cheerleader mode whenever he donned his boots and #7 jersey to create magic on the field.
Though she readily concedes that “Whom the gods love die young,” as the popular saying goes, sports minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange says the loss of promising talents like Dominic James is always deeply felt. “We are here to celebrate Dominic’s life, but the reality of the loss weighs heavily on all of us,” the minister said during her moving tribute on behalf of the government. “It is always difficult to express yourself on these occasions without feeling great sadness….. To his parents, I want to say, Jamaica shares the loss and celebrates the life of this special young man.”
Dominic collapsed in late September (a few days shy of his 19th birthday) while competing for St. George’s in a match at the Stadium East field. He was later pronounced dead at hospital. During Saturday’s service, an offering was taken up to benefit the soon-to-be-launched Dominic Alessandro Foundation.