Sunday, August 11, 2019

Stars Next Door Don Almeida

Once upon a time …in the  UK

Sports have always played a major role in the GOA’s diary of events. I was fortunate to be elected as Sports Director 1988/89 when the GOA owned its premises and grounds.  In my opinion, the life and soul of the clubhouse during my time as Sports Director were our sporting events – events which gave us an excuse to have social get-togethers.
My term was very fulfilling,  satisfying, though at times  frustrating!  I was unable to extend my term of office due to an overseas posting, but while I was at the        helm of the Sports Section, I  had an excellent team  of  Managers  who  worked  and played hard to promote their individual sport. Each sports  section was financially independent as  those  participating  had  to  pay  a  levy,  thus  enabling  me  to  purchase  new equipment.

Maintaining the grounds was a nightmare! Anyone who volunteered to drive the tractor was persuaded to hop on and mow the grounds! Wives, girlfriends no exception! During my term two sizeable trophies were presented: The Romeo Fernandes Cup donated by Mrs Bevinda Viegas for Hockey and the Freddie Braganza Cup donated by Mrs Bertha Braganza for the 100 metres.

Thanks to Peter Rodrigues who put Sports Day on  the  GOA  UK  map!  Way back in 1979, my team and I were able to hold the 10th annual sports day at the clubhouse, in 1989. I was fortunate to have the expert services of Caruso Monteiro and his helpers in setting out the sports track. I applaud all those then and now who are involved in this great event as it is a lot of hard work.

Badminton became a popular indoor Sport under the management of Steve de Sa and in the 1989 tournament enjoyed by players and spectators, there was some fierce competition before the finalists received their well-deserved trophies.

Don and Elvira Almeida, once the pillars of the GOA in the UK

 Cricket was organised by Lazarus Rattos and apart from arranging  outside  fixtures, he also had a Sunday League  to  compete  for  the  Sunil Gavaskar shield. Teams  comprised of club members residing in the South East counties of England. The keen spirit and enthusiasm of the teams to win the shield were incredible…you would have thought “The Ashes” were at stake! To Kent’s disappointment, Croydon won the shield. As always the spouses were very supportive in providing scrumptious teas and snacks, the taste being all the sweeter for the winning team!
 Football saw Errol Colaco devote a lot of his time to form a team that would compete in the Kent Sunday League. Our good football players were not forthcoming; nevertheless, we had a lot of tournaments, among them 7a-sides. Tough referring stopped many a punch up! And friendship was resumed over a pint or two at the bar.

Hockey: Again a lot of dedicated champions to promote hockey, namely: 1set  Eleven:  Oscar Fernandes

2ND Eleven: Filu D’Souza Special Eleven: Denis Lobo Ladies Eleven: Ronald Vaz

There being a few hockey bulletins in this brochure, I shall not cover that sport     in depth except to say that the Wallington 6 a-side was won by G.O.A captained by  Fidelis D’Mello.

Indoor sports organisers were Chris D’Souza: Darts; Val Nunes; Pool and Vince Fernandes; Table Tennis. A good social atmosphere presided. I thought I had become the second Eric Bristow in the Darts tournament only to be beaten by Chris! In the Pool tournaments, Val observed that the youngsters were giving the seasoned players a run for their money! Vince had a difficult task as there were some very skilful table tennis players who were a thrill to watch.

Trook was managed by Jacinto Fernandes, who continues to run this tournament to the present day. I thought Trook was gentle card game but tempers were easily raised when a player played the wrong card!  Many an argument was firmly and fairly handled by  Jacinto.

Volleyball always provided a  the highly  explosive  situation,  but  on  hand  to  diffuse  that  particular  bomb  was  Richard  Fernandes!     Richard  coached  and  managed    a G.O.A team that finished third  in  the  Kent  and  Surrey  casual  leagues.  There were  a number of trophies to be played for,  one being the St. Brittos Trophy  and   the other the G.O.A Open Trophy. Fierce competition between teams gave the spectators   sheer entertainment!

With the help of my team Managers, it gave me great pleasure to organise the first Interclub Tournament, held on 4th June 1989, between Simba, South East Goans and the G.O.A. The Association took the opportunity to host this event to promote sporting links between the clubs. This was achieved by friendly rivalry and good sportsmanship. I had hoped this event would have become an annual fixture with plans to invite other Goan clubs from further field.

Wilfred De Souza and Mafalda deSa were voted Sports personalities of the year 1988/89 for their participation and contribution to their sports.

My memories remained fond and often wistful. There were good days our Clubhouse years, if only for a short while. My association with the GOA was an enjoyable experience and long may the GOA continue as the unifying force of    our community. -- Donald Almeida

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