Goa is known for its sports culture. As a society, Goans have always been supportive of all sporting activities. Goans are enthusiastic about sports and parents are eager to encourage their children to play. When it comes to sports, there is no discrimination between boys and girls. Today, almost all villages in Goa have clubs instituted whereby sports and cultural activities are conducted amply and supported by government agencies. In villages, with the help of clubs and other agencies, sports activities are organised as part of feast celebrations. Panchayats, too, play a vital role in promoting sports and cultural activities among the people. Such tournaments are an excellent example in this movement, whereby not only youth but also elders are involved in various sports and cultural activities. And to prove the above, the Goa state has performed very well at national and international sports – especially in football, athletics, chess, tennis, swimming, badminton, judo, tennis ball, cricket and more.
Goa has, in fact, contributed to the Olympic movement in a big way. The brainchild of a French man, Pierre de Coubertin, the Olympic movement and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were officially established on June 23, 1894, at the Paris International Congress that was organised by Coubertin at the Sorbonne. The goal of the Olympic movement is clearly defined in the Olympic charter, ie, to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. The Olympic movement is the concerted, organised, universal and permanent action, carried out under the supreme authority of the IOC, of all individuals and entities who are inspired by the values of Olympism.
Goans have not only represented India but other countries like Pakistan, Canada and Kenya in the Olympics and have even gone on to win medals. Goa was liberated in 1961; but before liberation, Karachi-based Peter Paul Fernandes of Goan origin was part of the Dhyan Chand squad at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. And again, in the 1948 London Olympics, he represented Pakistan in hockey.
Another athlete, Seraphino Antao represented Kenya as a flag bearer of the Kenyan squad in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and participated in the 100 metres and 200 metres run. Earlier, he also represented Kenya in the 1960 Olympics in Rome and reached semi-finals of 100 metres run. He also won gold, the only Kenyan to do so, in the short sprints at the international level.
Other Goan origin players who played for Kenya were Reynold Pereira, Silvester Fernandes, Noysius Mendonca, Leo Fernandes, Hilary Fernandes, Anthony Vaz, Edgar Fernandes, Egbert Fernandes, Saude George, Rosario Dalgado, Michael Pereira, Reynold Pereira, Philip D’Souza, Patrick Martins and Raphael Fernandes.
At the Olympics, Goans mainly represented India in the games of hockey, football, athletics and tennis. Goan-born legend Neville D’Souza was the only Indian footballer to score a hat trick at the Olympics. Goan Olympic stars who represented the India team in hockey in the 1948 London Olympics and won the gold medal were Walter D’Souza, Leo Pinto, Lawrie Fernandes, Maxie Vaz and Reggie Rodrigues.
Another great personality Mary D’Souza, a resident of Quitula, Aldona won the Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement in Sports and Games in 2013. She represented India in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics in athletics, where she competed in the women’s 100 metres. D’Souza won a gold medal in the 1954 Asian Games in Manila in the 4 x 100 metres relay, a bronze medal in the 200 metres at the 1951 Asian Games in Delhi and also competed internationally in hockey at the Olympics.
John Mascarenhas represented the Indian Olympic hockey team in 1960, while JM Carvalho competed in 1976. The latest performance was by Leander Paes who led the Indian contingent at the opening ceremony in the 2000 Sydney Olympic games and also won the bronze medal in tennis at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
But in spite of having a golden sporting history at the international level and especially at the Olympics, the government has failed to highlight these performances and subsequently inspire youngsters.
We have already organised many international events such as the Lusofonia games and now, in a bid to promote the Olympic movement in India, we are all set to organise the National Games of India.
However, the question arises: are we going to highlight
our glorious sporting history during the National Games? And in spite of all
our facilities and infrastructure, what will be our standing in the forthcoming
National Games, a starter for
(Writer is the director of physical education and sports at Sridora Caculo College of Commerce and Management Studies, Mapusa.)
A scientific conference on Physical Education and Allied Sciences: Holistic Development for Excellence in Sports Performance and Well-Being will be held from February 27 to 29. The Navhind Times is the media partner for the event.