Talented communicator overcame illness

Des Vincent-Dustow with wife Kylie.
Des Vincent-Dustow with wife Kylie.

Desmond Vincent-Dustow: b Rotorua, August 18, 1976; m Kylie Vincent, 1s; d Wellington, September 27, 2012, aged 36.

When the lung disease cystic fibrosis finally forced Des Vincent- Dustow from the football pitch, he channelled his love of the game into coaching young players.

He formed his own female development squad, known as the NOKouts, and also coached the Samuel Marsden First XI side to a college premier title last month. In between times this year, as he had done for many years, he also coached an Onslow junior club side.

On the night Samuel Marsden won the championship at Wakefield Park early last month, his loyalties were somewhat divided.

He had also coached several players in the opposing side, Wellington Girls' College.

What the girls in his team did not know was that on the night of the final, their coach was suffering from type-2 respiratory failure while standing on the sideline on a cold, wet night. He should have been in hospital at the time, but had negotiated a later admission so he could see his girls take out the trophy.

That was the way for Mr Vincent-Dustow. When he was crook, he kept it under wraps.

He died unexpectedly in Wellington Hospital later that month.

Mr Vincent-Dustow spent his 36 years dealing with the inherited lung disease cystic fibrosis, but never let it stop him living life to the full. He mastered in his own mind the inhibiting factors of the disease, and monitored himself closely with the help of his wife, Kylie.

Mr Vincent-Dustow was born in Rotorua, but raised by caring relatives in Hawke's Bay and Naenae after his parents separated when he was young.

After leaving Naenae College, his love of music - he subsequently learned the guitar - was a good enough reason to embark on a short-lived career in the music industry as a salesman in Lower Hutt.

He soon moved on and found his niche as an IT manager at the Police College in Porirua.

Mr Vincent-Dustow was among the group of cystic fibrosis patients who kept pushing life expectancy boundaries of people with the disease. With modern medical treatments, patients can live well into middle age, and he never let it consign him to the "woe is me" sidelines of life.

The catalyst for his involvement with Samuel Marsden's First XI was his niece, Ella Vincent-Hyde, who was a member of the side. Suffice to say, even though he had to take a sideline seat immediately after the championship final, he was a happy man at the end of the match.

He had devoted 20 hours a week to coaching in recent years. His success was due to his ability to instil and communicate confidence in his charges. He liked coaching young women in particular because they listened to him - especially when he told them to "use both feet".

When they did well, he would call out their full names and praise them. When they didn't do so well, he said nothing.

Mr Vincent-Dustow never told his charges he had been born with cystic fibrosis. He didn't have to, for most of them already knew of their coach's health problems.

They knew him as a man who was not going to limit himself - or them - just because the ultimate referee would inevitably blow the whistle early on his own life.

The young ladies he coached gave this altruistic man their undivided attention and 100 per cent effort on the pitch.

Mr Vincent-Dustow's death came as a huge blow to the hundreds of young men and women he coached throughout the Wellington region.

To them, he was more than a football coach. He was also a mentor on how to cope, with guitar in hand and a smile on his face, with real life difficulties.

When he married Kylie Vincent in 2002, he found himself part of an established settled family unit for the first time in his life. The couple acknowledged this new sense of belonging by changing their respective surnames to Vincent-Dustow.

Kylie Vincent-Dustow and son Lochie freed their husband and father up to pursue his coaching interest because they always knew he was on borrowed time.

His brother-in-law Clive O'Brien, who also doubled as the discreet bag carrier behind the ailing coach, became the brother that he never had.

Mr Vincent-Dustow's influence on the players he coached lives on. He would quietly tell them he expected them one day to "wear the fern" as members of New Zealand teams, and the kids have got the message.

The NOKouts under-13 girls team from Wellington proudly wore a photograph of Des Vincent- Dustow on their shirts when they won the under-13 division competition of the John McCartney Invitation Tournament in Taupo this month.

Also inscribed on their shirts were the words "for Des, coach, mentor and lifelong friend".

Sources: Kylie Vincent-Dustow, Leigh Perry, Justine Empson, Natalie Lawrence, Fiona Calderwood, Clive O'Brien.

The Dominion Post