Community mourns passionate Coast sports identity
WHETHER it was a cricket bat or pair of football boots, for decades Paul Pantano was the friendly face many aspiring and seasoned sporting talents visited to get the right gear.
But, he was much more than just a source of equipment and advice, rather a vocal backer of grass-roots sport in the Sunshine Coast community as well.
The former Turnbull's Sports Store owner, Nambour Cricket Club past president and keen player is being mourned this week after he lost his long battle with lung cancer on Wednesday.
He died aged 71.
Pantano owned Turnbull's Sports Store on Currie Street in Nambour for about 35 years and as such had a special connection with multiple generations of rising talent.
Nambour Cricket Club president Peter Miles fondly remembered travelling to see Pantano himself when he first looked to get into cricket as a kid.
"A lot of people went to his shop and bought their first cricket bats at Turnbull's," he said.
"I bought my first bat there in the 1980s.
"It wasn't just cricket, it was everything, the shop was full of bikes as well and he used to fix kids bikes."
Pantano wasn't just content on selling sporting gear either and immersed himself in the local scene.
He was president of the Nambour Cricket Club in 1990, and both president and secretary in 1991.
He also appears on the club's honour board after amassing 151 games for the Cutters.
Close friend Eric Logan first met Pantano on the cricket field and subsequently enjoyed a 30-year bond with the "big club man"
"I used to play for Buderim but he coaxed me over to play for Nambour and we got on extremely well after that," Logan said.
"He was a very good club man and did a lot for sponsorship not just for the cricket club but for the Crushers and Yandina soccer club as well."
He said every Thursday night he would drive to Pantano's shop to enjoy a "few quiet rums".
It was a place Logan said Pantano loved as he guided youth to the right piece of sporting equipment.
"Twelve or 13-year-olds would come into his shop with their mum and dads to buy things and then years later they'd come back with children of their own. So, it was very special.
"The Turnbull's Sport Store was the longest standing sports store in Queensland, north of Brisbane, and had a lot of history from the previous owners."
Prior to shifting to the Sunshine Coast Pantano spent some time in South Africa with his brother manufacturing surfboards.
Logan said Pantano even made a brief appearance in the movie Endless Summer during a scene when it shows two people, Pantano and his brother, out surfing when there had been a shark sighting.
Logan recalled Pantano detailing his time on the rugby league field too.
"He played one game for Balmain in the 60s as hooker and was knocked out cold in a scrum and he said he never saw the punch coming," he said.
Sunshine Coast Cricket vice-president and life member Pat Drew said Pantano had been instrumental in starting indoor cricket on the Coast at the PYC in Nambour during the 80s.
His background in sport didn't end there either.
"He was the manager of the Cavaliers in world series cricket and he toured around Australia and he had some great yarns out of that," Drew said.
"All the people he came to he always had yarn for them.
"He was always able to give advice and helped people who needed things at the store and just a great person to be around and a great club man."
Pantano will be farewelled in a private service with family.