When I was a boy, I heard of him, the same way that I heard of champions like George Headley, Herb McKenley, Arthur Wint, and Alfred Valentine, and when I became a young man, I finally saw him play, although he had passed his best and retired by then.What I saw, however, convinced me even then of what I had heard and read before from many people. He was the best footballer Jamaica had ever produced; he was an all-round sportsman beyond the ordinary; and he was, without a single doubt, the greatest all-round sportsman Jamaica had ever produced.Lindy Delapenha, schooled at Central Branch Primary and St Aloysius Primary, Wolmer’s Boys and Munro College, was a little man, but a multi-talented and skilful one. In fact, by showing his football prowess by the time he was 12 and representing Wolmer’s in Manning Cup football, in many ways he was a child prodigy.Before he left Wolmer’s for Munro, he had represented the school in football, cricket, track and field, and boxing, and while at Munro, he paraded his skills for all to see, and to enjoy, representing the school and winning ‘colours’ in football, cricket, tennis, boxing, gymnastics, hockey, and track and field.In 1945, in his last year in school, he did the unthinkable, and he did it on two occasions.GREAT FEATSFirst, he led Munro to the Boys’ Championship title, and he did it almost single-handedly.In the two-day event, he ran a total of 16 races, eight heats and eight finals, and finished first in the 880 yards and the mile, second in the 220 and 440 yards, the 120 yards hurdles, the long jump, and the sprint relay, and third in the 100 yards.The second unthinkable thing came in the Olivier Shield final against Calabar. With 10 minutes to go in the match, Calabar were leading 4-1, and with Delapenha on the warpath, it was soon 4-4 before, with one minute to go, Munro won a penalty and sealed the issue from the spot.That remains, to this day, one of the finest climaxes to any football match in this country, or indeed anywhere in the world.Although Delapenha played all-schools football and cricket and will be remembered as the most gifted schoolboy sportsman, even better than Franz Alexander and Micky West from Wolmer’s, his legacy is football, whether it is flying down the wing and ‘centreing’ the ball for hungry strikers or driving through the middle and peppering goalkeepers with stinging shots.His football exploits saw him becoming the first Jamaican and one of the first black men to play professional football in England when he joined Portsmouth in 1948, and later Middlesborough, where he was the leading scorer for a few years, and then Mansfield Town.Before returning home in 1964, he played for Hereford United and Burton Albion.Lindy Delapenha was an avid golfer in his later years, and he also played it well.I will always cherish the days he played for Boys’ Town and for Real Mona United in local football, however, and I will always remember his still twinkling feet and those delicately and accurately placed shots from the penalty spot.It is a pity they never twinkled a lot for Jamaica. He was the best, bar none.
Each spring, Dowty’s organization sponsors a career expo for local eighth-graders, who get to build toolboxes, lay brick and use a jackhammer – and each year, the two-day event has gotten more popular. The idea is to plant seeds early – with some trades organizations hoping to capitalize on the popularity of children’s TV program “Bob the Builder” and home-improvement shows, including “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Trading Spaces: Boys vs. Girls.” Some trades organizations, such as the Associated Builders and Contractors, or ABC, have partnerships with the Boy Scouts of America and Junior Achievement. They offer training programs in Spanish. And still others, including Chicago Women in Trades, send speakers to schools to get more girls interested in a traditionally male-dominated field. Trades organizations also hope to supplant the notion that a college degree is the only path to a good career, creating an atmosphere more like that in Europe, where trades such as plumber, electrician and carpenter are often regarded as attractive professions with steady work and high stature for skilled technicians. “We say, ‘apprenticeship is the other four-year degree,”‘ says Bob Piper, vice president of work force development for the Arlington, Va.-based ABC, which has chapters across the country. And increasingly, some jobs such as construction management do require a college degree – and offer competitive starting salaries for graduates. “And yet nobody’s saying, ‘Hey, this is a good career,”‘ says Michael Holland, executive vice president of the American Council for Construction Education, based in San Antonio, Texas. The northern chapter of the California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors recruited 65 high school graduates for its first internship program this past summer. Of those, 35 completed the program – and 12 are staying to work in the trades. “We’re not going to change this overnight. But if these kids get an honest look and hear it from each other, they can see there’s an opportunity,” says Brian Peters, a board member for the California group, which noticed a big change in the group of young interns who showed up for orientation “slouching in the chairs, hats on backward.” By the end-of-summer banquet, he says, “it was shiny shoes, sitting up straight, bright-eyed, realizing they’d accomplished something.” Amy Stafford, now an 18-year-old college freshman, was one of the 35 who finished an internship, hers at a plumbing company in Rocklin, Calif. “I didn’t worry about getting greasy cutting gas pipe, and I didn’t worry about having to wear work boots and carrying heavy things,” Stafford says. “I loved my job. I loved the people.” For now, she plans to continue her studies in criminology at Fresno State University, where she’s attending on a track scholarship. But she’s grown to see the trades in a new light. “At this point in my life, if I wasn’t in college, I would definitely consider going into a trade,” she says. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! CHICAGO – There’s no shortage of work for Mike Kirby, a 21-year-old apprentice electrician in Iowa who’s lately been on the job 10 hours a day, seven days a week. He and others in the traditional trades are in great demand throughout the country, with many trades groups and employers hotly recruiting high school students to try and fill the growing need for everything from plumbers to bricklayers and drywallers. Yet despite the opportunities, the jobs are proving a tough sell – not only to young people but to their parents and school counselors, who don’t always see the trades as a desirable option. “That’s the way it’s preached: ‘If you don’t go to college, you can’t do anything.’ But obviously that’s not true,” says Kirby, who’ll finish his apprenticeship with Shaw Electric in Davenport, Iowa, next year. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals He expects to make $18 an hour once he finishes and hopes that will increase to as much as $25 an hour in the years to come. Officials at organizations that represent the construction trades say national age-specific statistics aren’t available. But they note U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the industry will need to add 100,000 jobs a year each year through 2012, while also filling an additional 90,000 openings annually for positions vacated by retiring baby boomers and those leaving the industry for other reasons. Some believe the labor shortage will only become more severe as the need for skilled workers increases on the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast and in regions with housing booms. “Do we have an immediate crisis? Probably not. Will we in five years? Absolutely,” says Gary Dowty, executive vice president of the Lake County Contractors Association, based in north suburban Chicago. Already, he’s seen several baby boomer trades workers take early retirement – “good retirement and pensions,” he notes. “They can afford to retire at 55 or 60 and they’re doing it.”