Dominic was 'very special'
St George's College's coach Neville 'Bertis' Bell has described his former Manning Cup captain, the late Dominic James, as very special.
Speaking at yesterday's thanksgiving service for James' life at a packed and overflowing Holy Trinity Cathedral on North Street, Bell said the young footballer played an important role in the achievements of St George's College during the 2015 schoolboy football season.
"I met Dominic last June when he came to a training session at the school, and after finding out why he was there, I quickly realised he would be an asset to our programme, and, boy, he certainly was," Bell said."
The long-time George's coach stressed: "He played a huge part in what we thought was a very successful season last year, and (that is) why we were so optimistic about our chances this year."
In paying tribute to James, Bell read messages from his former teammates, D'Andro Segree, who got injured in the game against Excelsior on Friday and couldn't attend yesterday's service said: "Dominic was more than a friend. He was my brother. Though he is supposedly in a better place, I wish he was here."
Current captain Alex Marshall: "I am elated to have met you and shared so many wonderful moments together. Words can't explain how much I love you. You will always be in my heart, my brother, my friend, my captain. Rest in peace."
With the many tributes, the service which began at 10 a.m. lasted until well past 3 p.m.
Also in attendance at yesterday's service were Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller, Minister of Sports Olivia Grange, Minister of Education Ruel Reid, and many other members of the education and the sporting fraternities.
Grange said the reality of James' loss "weighs heavy on all of us".
James, who was born on September 26, 1997, first attended Jamaica College (JC) and then left for St George's last year. He died after being rushed to hospital following his collapse during a Manning Cup match against Excelsior High on September 20 at the Stadium East field.
In an emotional tribute to James, JC's coach Miguel Coley said the player won many titles at the Hope Road-based school from the Under-13 level upwards.
"His days at Jamaica College reflected an amazing series of championships. For this, we salute you. For his work ethic, for his spirit of wanting more. superb technique, selflessness, leadership, we honour him and give God thanks for such a being," Coley said.
James played for one year in 2013 at Harbour View and also represented Real Mona, Central Kingston, Barbican, Waterhouse and The Phoenix Academy in his short life.
Clyde Jureidini, general manager of the Harbour View Football Club, said, "We are thankful that he graced us with his presence for the short time, as he did for six other clubs that are represented here, along with the JFF, which makes seven."
Meanwhile, interim national men's senior coach, Theodore Whitmore, who also lost a son under tragic circumstances, told The Sunday Gleaner that Jamaicans should support the James' family.
"I have been down that road, so I know what it feels like and I know what the James family is feeling now, but we just have to be strong as a football fraternity and just give full support," Whitmore said.
Jamaica Football Federation South Central Confederation chairman Michael Ricketts, who represented JFF boss Captain Horace Burrell, shared a letter from FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
According to Ricketts, world football's governing body's head "was moved by the news and reality of Dominic's passing".
"Dear President Burrell, please accept my deepest condolences on hearing that Dominic James, a student and captain, has passed away at just 18," the tribute read.
Meanwhile, an inconsolable girlfriend, Shadae Ashley, said it was heart-rending to know her boyfriend of four years was gone.
"We have been together four years and I am still in shock," revealed Ashley, who will celebrate her 19th birthday tomorrow.
"Words can't explain the pain I feel to know he is gone," she said, while adding that she hangs out with Dominic's friends and talks to help deal with the grief.