Revisiting Stanislaus' sporting glory

Hockey Internationals with the Author

by Pradeep Vijayakar (Class of 1966)

Mumbai: The glory of St Stanislaus High School sport came back on Sunday night when four international hockey players were among ten ex-students felicitated on the occasion of the platinum jubilee celebrations of the St Stanlislaus Ex-Students Association. The Bandra school, which goes back 147 years, would regularly sweep the titles in hockey, football and athletics in the 60s. Of the four honoured, Leo Pinto, Francis D'Mello,Marcellus Gomes and Viren Rasquinha. 1948 Olympian goalkeeper Pinto did not come as he is 94.

Leo Pinto joined Stanislaus in 1930 and represented played hockey, football and even cricket (as wicket-keeper and opening bat). In football he was a speedy right winger.

Mahindra players D'Mello (1972) and Gomes (1976) drew loud applause. D'Mello holds the record for playing for India in international hockey when still at school. Just 15 he played in the Barcelona World Cup in 1971 and later captained the team to Afghanistan. ``We had a strong team and we won all titles in my time,'' said D'Mello.Gomes was part of the best National team in 1989. He represented India from 1981 to 1987.

Viren Rasquinha, (Class of 1996), earlier on Saturday spoke at a symposium on education on the topic of Education and Sport. He is eminently qualified to do so having been 13th on the SSC Merit list in 1996 with 91 per cent marks and going on to play hockey for India in 180 games--at the Olympics, Asian Games, Asia Cup and Afro-Asian Games.After his retirement in 2008, Viren did his MBA at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad and is Chief Operating Officer of Olympic Gold Quest.

``Work is Play',' Work Smart', `Don't look at it as a sacrifice', `Enjoy whatever you do', was Viren's mantra. Rasquinha said,``There are no short-cuts to success. Self-motivation is important to go beyond one's limits. I never studied beyond one hour at a stretch.I did not think about play when studying nor about studies when playing. While others were partying I would go to bed early thinking about getting up early next morning and going for training to make myself the best hockey player in the world. While doing this I never thought that I was making any kind of sacrifice. Had I done that then I may not have been successful. Sports helped me to discipline myself, take reverses in my stride.''

There were several other sportsfolk that evening. Edwin D'Souza who captained the B team which allowed just one goal to the A team in the historic Junior aga Khan final contested by both Stanislaus team in 1966.

Then there were boarders of the 60s who also recalled memories of sporting glory. Frank Mascarenhas who led the team to the hockey triumph said,``We were tipped to win the Viegas Cup. But Fr Donnelly of St Mary's who was running schools sport, put our match at 1.30. Our principal Fr Casale refused.``My boys have lunch at one pm how can they play. The principal told us to refuse and Fr Donnelly's ploy worked.'' Frank paid tribute to the calculations of Oliver Andrade who counted points each athleye would notch up for the team title. ``Once Gerson Dourado our all-round sportsman hurt his foot. But knowing that his absence would cost us a vital poitn he got Gerson to run with a bandaged foot and he won.''

Gerson played for India in Asian Youth soccer when at school. Shades of Francis D'Mello.

But Frank Mascarenhas surprised us by his revelation that cricket was strong at Stanislaus in the 50-60s. I knew that Bro D'Penha was good enough to play for Khar Gymkhana in the suburban shield. Said Frank,``We boarders were good at cricket. We would have won the title had we entered the Harris Shield. In fact the first T20 was played by us. The fathers would tell us to wrap up our cricket by four because the footballers would want the ground. So one team played twenty overs and the other team also.''

Peter Fernandes was another who led the hockey team to the the title. He also recalled how strong the team was in volleyball.

Then there was Mathew Baretto who was a champion swimmer and diver. ``Had we taken part in the diving Mathew would have won,'' said Frank with pride about Mathew. Talking of diving I remember Johnny Alves who was honoured diving at our school pool.

The boys of 1966-67 recalled how they played cricket. Some of the names I can recall were Avinash Dalvi, Cowsi Wadia, Balu Ramakrishnan, Amit Goradia, Deepak and Pradeep Vijayakar, Sunil Jadhav, Yezdi Bharicha and Donald Sir's son whose name I forget. Donald Sir would be the ace performer for Staff in the annual match against Students which we won.

Fr Jude Fernandes, the school principal, said,``We have 147 years of service behind us. The school was founded for the under-privileged and we have fulfilled this role. We are burdened by the expectations of teachers and parents. We want to go forward towards designing a quality curriculum.'' He was open to suggestion for the school to turn itself into a brand as schools which had come its wake had become.

Sesquicentenary Inauguration

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