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Cyprian Fernandes: Saude George on Sport

Sporting Spotlight on Goans in East Africa

by Saude George

Year after year flickers by like a film of memory and we are now on the threshold of a great and unknown period.  Whatever it brings, let us hope it will have for its symbol true human brotherhood and understanding. For our Institute, this year will be significant in a historical sense. I am convinced that here, all the Goans are provided a common ground and the members in general, do their utmost to ensure that high standard of service, that is a characteristic of the Goan Community

EQUALLY PROFICIENT ON AND OFF THE FIELD

To judge from frequently expressed opinions, coupled with the fact that the Goans take part in many varied events, supports the contention that, the Goans are not only the most sports-minded people in East Africa and for that matter all over, but are equally proficient on and off the field in all departments of sport.

Football and hockey monopolises the attention of the majority of our sports enthusiasts. For the sport of football is in the heart and blood of every Goan is not far from the truth.  The game has never been more popular that it is today an there is a growing sign of encouragement from everyone.  The post-war seasons in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi for instance turned out to be not only one of the most memorable in the annals of this long-standing sport but also pinpointed that local Goan football contains few episodes to compare with the meteoric rise of the standard in recent years.  Every race including the African, respects our skill on the football field.  

Talk of football in Nairobi and the African's mind flashes to those epic and breath-taking ties in the 1950 Maxwell Brady International, where crowds thronged in record numbers.   There were high prospects of great and cheering change from he local soccer scene, when it was proposed that an East African team be flown to Portuguese Africa for a series of matches.  This news no doubt boosted the spirit of the players, but the idea was temporarily shelved, due to lack of funds.  That the scheme of this nature and magnitude cannot be run without involving some considerable expense is not to be set aside; but charity begins at home, so runs the old adage and the public at large who have provided the necessary initiative and encouragement in the past will certainly not fail this time, as this sound investment will put Goans of East Africa on the sporting map.

HOCKEY SCENE ON THE UP-GRADE

The more gloomy observer makes rather gloomy comparisons with the past years of Goan hockey. Wistfully he recalls performances over a decade and wonders shall their like be soon again. How this opinion can be reconciled with the present standard of our boys in the competitions in the face of stiff opposition is difficult to understand.  Remember the Goan Institute Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and to a lesser degree the Kampala side, in the recent seasons of the M. R. D'Souza Gold Cup tournament. What grand hockey these teams played.  In those matches the morale of the entire Goan play was raised.  In Mombasa and other coastal places the
Goan standard in hockey has risen considerably.

There are reasons for the comparative lack of outstanding players in the present time. Fewer people feel the need to turn to hockey for recreation and others who have the urge, turn to other sport as there is not enough fostering of the game by the responsible bodies.  Curiously enough, our own Association have provided invigorating factors and there is plenty of drive in their organisation.  This body has demanded respect and admiration from the public. This opinion can be reconciled by the successful staging of competitions and other matches to provide enough incentive to our plavers for better achievements.

In order that hockey finds greater optimism, ladies' teams are being run all over East Africa.  Thus, while hockey may have its part disappointment previously, there is evidence of bright outlook in the future.  With these great attempts, there is not the slightest reason for suggesting that there will be decline in interest.

LACK OF VISITING TEAMS

The question of interest in cricket has not been tackled in an earnest way and there is not much headway. Apart from the regular fixtures and a few competitions, there is a dearth of good visiting teams coming here and this naturally deters the game surging forward.  One thing is certain that probably 70 per cent of the people enjoy watching than playing the game.

IS ENOUGH ATTENTION GIVEN TO TENNIS?

In tennis Goans have been blessed with a spectacular rise to fame in Kenya and Uganda, but persistent efforts are not made by our champions to maintain top standard as they are apt to think they have reached the zenith. Few
youngsters take up to this game seriously and it will be a great tragedy if the old horses slump back into retirement.  It is idle to suppose that players will be modeled into champions over a fortnight.  The clubs and the associations have tried to weather this storm but it is up to the players to aim at that ambition, that is so conducive to present day standard.

SOME SUPREMACY IN THE OTHER GAMES

In the lesser known games like billiards, snooker, badminton and table-tennis, the Goans have enjoyed some supremacy and in the last named our boys have won laurels in open championships. The achievements of some of the billiard players call for special recognition.  A lot of credit goes to some of the youngsters who are equally good in handling the cue and we can be certain of having something exceptional in the cold storage.

In badminton, the old prejudice that it is more of a feminine game has died away and with more promising younger talent, it is bound to dominate the sports scene to a great extent.

In athletics we have had a fair measure of success.  It is a great pity that all our clubs do not stress the importance of athletics.  There is plenty of talent and the only way to broaden the base is to improve our programmes and give better facilities to all. 

OUR MATERIAL HANDICAPS

That having been said, we must see what are our material handicaps. The root of all trouble is two-fold. Lack of finance and the absence of enough youngsters.  What has happened in the past is a matter of little interest. Someone has to take a realistic view about the proper development of the youngsters and although progress in the intial stages will be at snail's pace, never-the-less the results gained would be most helpful indeed.  From the empty coffers arises another difficulty of the absence of enough playing fields.  It is a big stumbling-block and the pity of it, is that even the nurseries of our Sport, the schools, do not possess sufficient playgrounds.  The only solution to this problem is to appeal to the right bodies who can help us in this respect. 

But all is well that ends well and I am quite confident that Goans have their own way of overcoming such handicaps and achieve remarkable success not only on the field but off the field where the sporting spirit is much appreciated
than triumph.
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The writer of this article needs little introduction and as a sports correspondent has contributed articles to local papers.  A product of St. Paul's School, Belgaum, India, has been described by the soccer critics as the best Asian and one of the finest footballers in the Colony.

Holds the record for the highest number of appearances for the Kenya combined selections and has the distinction of playing against the Swedish, London University and the Austrian top class visiting teams.   Has also appeared in all
the representative matches of the inter-racial Commercial Football League.  Has captained the Institute team on four occasions and led the 1953 Goan XI.  Is also a representative hockey player and been in the Institute line-up.

Although enrolled as a member in 1950, has been in the Institute management for the last three years and perhaps been the youngest member to hold the post of a Secretary.