Former Vincy national soccer captain, coach Rudolph ‘Rudy’ Boucher dies

Rudolph "Rudy" Boucher,
Rudolph “Rudy” Boucher, right, receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Franklyn “Supadex” Richards, the late former president of VincyCares, in December 2014.
Photo by Nelson A. King

For almost two decades, Rudolph “Rudy” Boucher was renowned as an attacking and stout midfielder on the football (soccer) field, an astute captain and an obdurate St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ national soccer coach, but on Tuesday he drew his last breath.

His wife, Jacqueline Boucher, née James, said Boucher died Tuesday morning at South Shore University Hospital at Northwell Health in Bay Shore, Long Island. He was 76.

Mrs. Boucher told Caribbean Life that her husband had fallen ill on Aug. 4.

Boucher played soccer continuously from 1963-77, captained the national team from 1972-76 and then coached it from 1977-80 before migrating to New York.

During his playing stint, the national soccer team won the Windward Islands championship on numerous occasions, including consecutively in 1965 and 1966.

According to the SVG Soccer Hall of Fame, Boucher played on the national team with such great players as Michael “Mike” Findlay, Lennox “Chicken” John, Jeff Bailey, Bab Jones, Douglas Cambridge, Leslie “Jim” Ollivierre, Luxy Quashie, Norbert Hall, Fred Trimmingham and Stanley “Luxie” Morris.

On migrating to New York in 1980, Boucher again assumed the role of coach of Team SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) in the then Brooklyn-based Caribbean Soccer Cup.

In December 2014, the Brooklyn-based uprising group, VincyCares, honored Boucher with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I must say thanks to VincyCares for this award,” said Boucher in his brief acceptance speech, at the group’s 5th Annual Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn.

“It’s something I’ll always cherish,” added the Hospital Road, Kingstown (St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ capital) native, pausing immediately as tears flowed down his cheeks.

“When I saw all my friends here, it makes me feel great,” continued Boucher in a slightly hoarse voice, with his daughter, Tamarisk, emerging from the family table, at the front of the banquet hall, to console him.

“I have my kids here – from Miami, Austin (Texas), Buffalo (upstate New York),” he said. “It’s really humbling.”

Mrs. Bocher was also among other family members, including children, on hand in offering support.

The son of the late Beryl Boucher, Rudolph Boucher was a member of the iconic Notre Dame Football Club in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that was founded in 1959 by the late Sam DeBique and “a group of young sporting enthusiasts.”

Boucher said, at the Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony, that the club “matured into one of the finest club teams ever to grace the playing fields in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

He said he had joined Notre Dame in 1963 as a “precocious teenager” and “literally grew up on the grounds of Victoria Park in Kingstown,” where his uncle, Paul Boucher, was the head groundsman.

In its souvenir journal, VincyCares said Boucher was “noted as one of the living legends of Vincentian football.

“He was simply the finest attacking midfield player ever produced in his native St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” it said.

On Aug.17, 2018, Findlay, also a former West Indies wicket keeper and manager, paid glowing tribute to a number of current and former Vincentian sports personalities, including Boucher.

Findlay, a St. Vincent and the Grenadines Sports Ambassador and erstwhile journalist, made the tribute while delivering the keynote address, on the 40th anniversary celebration of the Brooklyn-based Vincentian sports club, Hairoun, at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center, on Logan Street in East New York.

While acknowledging the presence of a number of sports figures with whom he had played cricket and soccer, Findlay said he especially remembered “those highly intensive games between my club, Saints, and Notre Dames, one of the best football [soccer] teams to have come out of St. Vincent (and the Grenadines).

“I am still firm in my belief that players like Rudy Boucher, Norbert Hall, Dougie Doyle, Fred Trimmingham and Jeff Bailey were ahead of their time,” he declared.

“We had some great matches at Victoria Park [in capital Kingstown], and through all that, we never allowed the intensity of the football to affect our brotherly relationships,” Findlay added.

Stating that the 40th anniversary of any organization is “a significant milestone deserving of worthy praise and celebration,” Findlay congratulated Hairoun Sports Club’s president and co-founder Stanley “Luxie” Morris, who played under Boucher’s captaincy for a number of years.

Morris, an extant St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ sports ambassador, is a former national soccer captain, who was also manager of Team SVG in the defunct Caribbean Soccer Cup and current head coach of Team SVG in the Brooklyn-based Caribbean Premier League Soccer (CPLS).

As hundreds of Vincentian and other Caribbean nationals in New York in February this year paid their final respects to former Vincentian calypso and soccer icon Basil “Bung” Cato, Boucher described Cato as his “good friend.”

“I’ll always remember him,” said Boucher at Caribe Funeral Home on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, noting that Cato was a leading official in soccer in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 1979, when the national team made nationals proud by its outstanding performance in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) championship.

“That 1979 team I can never forget,” he added. “He (Cato) will encourage you to do things right.”

SVG Soccer Hall of Fame said it was “only fitting to this football icon” that “Rudolph Rudy Boucher have been honored (recognized) for his sterling contribution to the sport by various organizations over the years.”

In 2009, it said Boucher was honored by the then Venold Coombs-led national soccer executive in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

SVG Soccer Hall of Fame said that Boucher was also honored in 2016 at the SVG Diaspora Heritage Awards & Gala in Brooklyn.

In addition, it said Boucher, in 2019, “received yet another award” by the Breakaway Masters Organization in conjunction with the SVG Football Federation for his role with the national team of 1979.

“On behalf of all the past footballers, the players that played with and was coached by you, those youngsters who would be reading this sometime down the road, thank you for the interest shown and role played in being a part of SVG Football history,” said SVG Soccer Hall of Fame in a Facebook post. “We are forever grateful, ‘nuff’ respect from our heart.”

Mrs. Boucher said her husband’s funeral arrangements are yet to be finalized.

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