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Wednesday October 7, 2009

Bringing back glory to SPI

ONCE a powerhouse in hockey, the St. Paul’s Institution (SPI) in Seremban boasted of dedicated teachers and coaches like William Fidelis, Lawrence van Huizen, Suffian Sta Maria and the late Ashwin Kumar Patel.

Those were the days when the SPI would humiliate other “superior schools” like Tunku Besar in Tampin and the Datuk Taha team from Gemencheh.

Move it: George Lazaroo (left) from OPA trying to steer the ball away from a Jolly Lad player.

And these days the SPI team is no getter even at the district level although there are a lot of Old Paulians willing to help out in a restructuring programme.

Former internationals like Peter van Huizen, Gary Fidelis, Derek Fidelis, Stephen van Huizen, George Lazaroo, Jude Lazaroo and Raymond Tio are some of the famous names synonymous with SPI hockey.

With a continuous stream of players then, the question before was not “Who would win?’’ but by how many goals. But now these former internationals are asking if hockey is still alive in SPI.

Under the tutelage of Lawrence, William, Ashwin and Suffian, the hockey players harvested state titles and other titles. But the achievements stopped there.

To the champions: Vipin Patel (centre) presenting the Ashwin Kumar Patel challenge trophy to the winning team representative while Gopi (right) from the OPA looks on.

However, a group of students from the Class of 80 and 84 came together recently to organise a hockey fiesta at the Seremban Two hockey complex, pitting former internationals residing in Kuala Lumpur against the Old Paulians team comprising ex-internationals and state players.

The match was specially organised in memory of the late Ashwin Kumar Patel whose contribution to the Old Paulian Association (OPA) and the Negri Sembilan Hockey Association (NSHA) is unrivalled.

The challenge trophy was contributed by Vipin Patel, the younger brother of Ashwin.

The game was keenly contested with the KL team, calling themselves the Jolly Lads, winning the encounter 2-1.

The “boys” played the full 70 minutes and despite their age and bulkiness, the partisan crowd who came to watch them in action was all praise.

Maybe the current hockey team in SPI can learn a lesson or two from these former internationals and bring back the glory days the school once enjoyed.

Peter’s grandson Matthew van Huizen, 16, kept goal for the OPA while John Stephenson who was at the end of the field showed that he still had what it takes to keep the ball from rolling into goal.

The KL team paraded former state and internationals like Louis Gregory, V. Chandrasegar, Deva Prakash, Gurmit Singh, Michael Chiew, Thomas Matthew, K. Murali and James Murthy while the OPA was represented by Gurubachan Singh, Balbir Singh, Terence Rajasingam, Adrian van Huizen, George Lazaroo, Stephen van Huizen, Suffian Sta Maria and Derek Fidelis.

Former greats, brothers William van Huizen and Peter van Huizen and William Fidelis were there to cheer the team.

The OPA hopes to make the event an annual affair.

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