SPI honours its old boys Featured

Monday, 02 December 2013 16:17

IT was a day for  SMK St Paul (SPI) old boys when the school management  honoured its former students who went on to represent Malaysia in hockey at the Olympic Games. SPI held its co-curricular excellence awards ceremony at the school's hall in Seremban recently.

Among SPI old boys who became Olympians were Lawrence van Huizen and his son Stephen, Brian Sta Maria, Kevin Nunis, and Suriaghandi Suppiah.

Lawrence participated in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Brian in Munich in 1972, Kevin and Stephen in Los Angeles in 1984 and Suriaghandi in Barcelona in 1992.

SPI Co-Curricular Senior Assistant Shantini Thilaga Lingam, said: "It is an honour for me to organise this event and welcome home the Paulian hockey Olympians to their alma mater.

"We are very proud of their achievements, and I believe it will inspire the present Paulians to strive to emulate their successes."

Colin Sta Maria (who played in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics) had wanted to be present but he was away in Hong Kong for a veterans tournament at the time.

"I have always been a hockey fan and have great admiration for the skills and successes of these players who have done the country proud time and time again, said Shantini.

"It is especially a proud moment for me to have the privilege to honour them at this function.

"The students of SPI have achieved so much success this year in various competitions at district, state, national and even international levels.

"We greatly appreciate the efforts of these students as well as their teachers who have worked hard to bring glory to SPI.

"Co-curricular excellence has long been a tradition of SPI... may it live on in the years to come.

"In 1986, when the MSSD Seremban team that I captained, won the MSSNS boys' Under-18 title, principal Brother James Macken asked me what I wanted in return.

"I told him all SPI students wanted to go home early after recess and he told me 'How can I refuse your request?', and we were allowed to go home early that day."

Stephen van Huizen has the distinction of being involved in four Olympics, six Asian Games, three World Cups, two Commonwealth Games and four SEA Games as a player or coach.

He said: "SPI has a proud tradition of producing outstanding hockey players who have gone on to represent the country in many international tournaments like the World Cup, Asian Games, Sea Games.

"We had the support in our time of Reverend Brothers like Bro Felix and Bro James, dedicated teachers like Mr Dutt, Mr Tang, Mr Hilary Sta Maria, and the late Mr Ashwin Patel.

"There were many other old boys who devoted their time and energy to training us. Among them were Lawrence Van Huizen, William Fidelis, Peter Van Huizen, Michael Yan, Brian Sta Maria and Choudury.

"Many have gone on to represent Malaysia and did this school proud. Even though they were not Olympians, we should not forget their achievements.

"Names like M. Joseph, Peter Danker, Michael Yan, James De Cruz, Henry Sta Maria, Yap Yook Cheang, Ch'ng Meng Kung, Ian Sta Maria, William Lazaroo, Derek Fidelis, Raymond Tio, Suresh Lingam, Mark Paul and so many more whose names I can't remember, have done the school proud.

"Let me also give another example of how St Paul's was really a nursery for producing hockey players for the country.

"In the team to the first Junior World Cup in Paris in 1979, we had five Paulians in the final team of 16 (31.25 per cent). Colin, Kevin, Derek, William and myself and it could have been six because Ian was in the team with Colin and me that played in the Asian qualifier in KL before Ian decided to try his fortune in Germany and so missed the Junior World Cup Finals.

"In the training squad for the 1979 Junior World Cup, we had three other Paulians who were called but didn't make the final team - Wong Yuen Chwang, Anthony Chan and Colin Fidelis.

"Imagine nine players from St Paul alone - all thanks to great work and dedication from our teachers and coaches.

"Now, let's talk about the Olympics and what it means for us being honoured here today.

"The Olympics is and will always be the pinnacle of every sportsman's career and the dream of a lifetime, and I am sure many including those I have mentioned earlier also had that dream.

"However, only a select few went on to achieve this and that what makes us Olympians such an exclusive club held in the highest esteem. Today, our alma mater SPI has chosen to honour us.

"In Malaysia, since we first took part in the Olympics at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, only 316 Malaysians have earned the right to be called Olympians.

"Of these, only 107 hockey players have represented Malaysia in the Olympics.

"St Paul can be proud that during this period from 1956 to 2012, there have been 11 Paulians who are hockey Olympians. That translates to about 10 per cent of the total Malaysian hockey Olympians.

"In fact, since 1956, whenever the Malaysian hockey team qualified for the Olympics, except for the 1976 Montreal Olympics, there was at least one Paulian involved either as player or coach.

"For me especially with my father Lawrence as an Olympian coupled with my uncle Peter having played in the first ever Malaysian Olympic hockey team, then you can understand what becoming an Olympian meant and how much pressure it was to achieve the dream.

"Right now, the pressure of carrying on the Van Huizen family tradition has fallen on my son Joel as he tries to make the Junior World Cup team in December this year and his ultimate goal to be an Olympian.

"What pressure! Good luck to him but I wouldn't want to be in his shoes for sure.

"Besides the five present here today, the other hockey Olympians who are unable to be here today are the late Peter Van Huizen (1956 Melbourne Olympics), the late Datuk Ho Koh Chye from (1964 Tokyo), and 1968 Mexico), Franco De Cruz (1972 Munich), Colin Sta Maria (1984 LA), Gary Fidelis (1992 Barcelona) and Keevan Raj (2000 Sydney)."

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