I was asked to deliver a Eulogy on my former Trinidad and Tobago teammate and friend Michael McComie at his funeral in Arima, Trinidad on Tuesday. Michael passed away suddenly last Tuesday at the age of 46 after battling with a brain tumor. Sadly I was unable to attend the funeral service, being out of the country at the time but I managed to put these words together and it was delivered at the service by another good friend of mine, Russell Latapy.
I remember my first few encounters with Michael when we were teenagers growing up in the same era in the 1980s. It was an exciting period for us as upcoming young footballers and young men looking to make a life for ourselves. We were all strong competitors but there was always a good camaraderie and banter around us as young boys. We would face each other in the Colleges League. Of course I played for Signal Hill and Mike was the man in goal for St Augustine Senior Comprehensive. We moved through the ranks of the Under 17 and Under 18 teams and then we were both playing together at the Under 20 level under Bertille St Clair. At that stage of our lives, we were at the pinnacle of our careers having qualified for the 1991 Under 20 World Cup in Portugal. We were part of a team that was the first to qualify for a World Cup from Trinidad and Tobago.
I recall Mike had a way about him before matches where you could see he had nerves jumping around especially before big games such as our opening game against Australia at the World Cup. But he would always say “I’m okay skipper, I’ll be okay” and he would then go on to pull off a fabulous performance in goal or come away with flying colours which he did against the Australians. We lost that match 2-0 but Mike was superb for us between the uprights. I think that was arguably his best performance for Trinidad and Tobago and there was no better stage than at the World Cup in which do so.
He always had a great sense of humour but with a strong personality. He had a strong, no-nonsense character. Mike stood for what he believed in and he wasn’t afraid to speak out when needed. His smile and his catchy personality traits had a way of drawing people to him. We used to play a lot of cards and he was one of the funny ones with a bit of cunningness about him that made you tend to like that side of him.
And of course we all know Mike felt he was good enough to be an outside player on the pitch. There were times I had to tell him, Michael please stay within your perimeters, we don’t need you out here. I knew afterwards he did try to play outside of goal but I was happy I never ended up on the pitch at the same time with him because I’d probably have to teach him a thing or two and force him to put his gloves back on. Those were great times we shared that never leaves you as an individual.
To see him rise to become a good coach is something that testifies to his knowledge of the game because it’s not too often you see goalkeepers going on to become someone who tells people how to play the game but Mike developed himself into someone who could make a valuable contribution after his playing days and it’s devastating that he will not be he there to continue those contributions,
He always called me skipper up until recently instead of referring to me as Yorkie or Dwight and to me that demonstrated the respect he maintained over all these years.
We cannot know for certain how long we have here.We cannot foresee the trials or misfortunes that will test us along the way. We cannot know what God’s plan is for us.
What we can do is to live out our lives like Mike did, as best we can with purpose, and with love, and with joy. We must remember what he lived for during his short life.
There were many wonderful aspects to his life and many ways that he touched our lives. For us and especially his kids, He will be remembered as a wonderful father, brother, a great friend, teammate and coach. In all these ways and more, he had an impact on our lives. Now that he has passed, in many ways, the gift of Michael’s life is still here with us. He lives on in our memories and stories and in what all of us have become with him in our lives. So I encourage you to share –today and tomorrow your memories and stories that will keep the gift of Michael’s life alive.
May God bless him, may he rest in eternal peace.