Kenya’s hockey legend and Olympian Alexinho Eduardo Mendonca, known to all as ‘Alu’, was on Monday honoured by family, friends and former team mates during a requiem mass to celebrate his peerless sporting life.
Scores trooped to the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Kileleshwa, Nairobi, for the farewell mass of the former Kenya hockey captain, rated by his peers as the finest left winger in world hockey, in his day.
He represented Kenya as a player in four editions of the Olympics - 1956, (Melbourne), 1960 (Rome), 1964 (Tokyo) and 1968 (Mexico City). He was captain in Rome. During the mass, no tears were shed, but joy radiated amongst the congregation during the service, that begun promptly at 11am and ended two hours later.
An echo of the simplicity of the great Alus’ own life, their was no funeral programme printed, no official photographers and no videos taken either!
Alu, who took his final bow on March 10 at the Nairobi Hospital aged 85, was born in Goa and was among the pioneering Goan and Sikh hockey players who placed Kenya on the global hockey map; just prior to independence in 1963 and throughout the 70s.
At Kileleshwa, the tribute was read by his son-in-law Shaun Barretto who is married to his daughter Cora-Lisa. Taking pride of place in the front pew of the church was the Sikh Union battalion comprising former Olympians and Kenya internationals.
Undoubtedly a testament to their huge respect for their once formidable club foe, Alu.
Among the former hockey players who attended were Rawesh Balla, Gurchanan Singh, Surjit ‘Junior’ Sindhi and the one and only Avtar Singh Sohal ‘’Tari’. Tari was himself a formidable left full back for Sikh Union and Kenya.
As Sohal and Sindhi removed the two hockey sticks from atop the simple brown mahogany coffin, and then were joined by their fellow Olympians in placing the coffin in the hearse, all assembled knew that an unforgettable part of Kenya’s sporting history, had just come to a close.
Thank you for the memories, great man.