Reviving hockey in Kandy | Daily News

Reviving hockey in Kandy

Kandy District Hockey Association is all out to bring back hockey to the position it enjoyed at club level previously. Hockey in Kandy dates back to 1907, when the Indian Rajput Regiments occupied the Kandy Military Barracks, currently known as Police Barracks, were wanting to play hockey, almost every evening, and they did so.

During that time St. Anthony’s College was housed at the present St. Sylvester’s College premises and they used the barracks square for all their sports.

The boys of that era felt drawn to the game themselves; and tried their hand at knocking the ball about with a borrowed stick or two. The fearless youngsters found some places vacant whenever the military men did not turn up. At that time, there was no clubs or tournaments, the Indians who were on military duty played hockey by themselves. After their departure there was no hockey.

Then in the mid 1930’s P.T. Rajan who was a school teacher, with the backing of another two teachers V.D. Paul Raj, J.O Mendis and Municipal Charity Commissioner at one time re-started the game of hockey.

It was mainly due to P.T. Rajan’s keenness that hockey in Kandy prospered in the schools and clubs.

The teams during that period were St. Anthony’s College under the name of “Hotspurs”, Trinity College under the name of “Rabits”, Kingswood College, Kandy Rovers SC , Imperial Motor Garage Sports Club and Indian Students Hostel, (now known as Asoka Vidyalaya).

As years went on, hockey flourished in Kandy with several schools in and around the area taking to the game. During the World War, large number of clubs and schools including foreign teams played in Kandy.

Again in 1950’s the game was heading to the wilderness and to keep it alive P. T. Rajan presented a challenge cup in his name to the Kandy District Hockey Association to be given to the winners of the Inter Club League Tournament.

One time Municipal charity commissioner M.S. Jainudeen, as Secretary of Kandy District Hockey Association went all out to popularize the game.

It is said that in 1944, Kandy DHA, had one of the finest league tournaments, in which 14 teams had taken part. They were St. Anthony’s (Hotspurs), Trinity (Rabits), Kingswood, Police, the CLI, Kandy Rovers, The Sampans (Army), The Blue Jays (Army), All Anglo Indian XI, Parklands (Army) Indian Legionaries (Army), South East Asia Command team (Lord Mountbattans staff). The cup went missing for years before it was found and handed over to the Rajan family.

Mention must be made of great players like the late Philip Buultjens, Bobby H.W. Jayaweera and Sam Elhart of Trinity fame, Robert Wright, P. Thangavelu, A.L. Perumal, George Mackay, A.H. Sherifdeen all of St. Anthony’s, Lionidas James of Kingswood, M.I. Bin Ismail, and Freddie White who was considered as the best goal-keeper not only in Sri Lanka but also in Asia.

Today at school level, Kandy schools are doing well especially girls’ schools, but club wise the game has gone down. An effort is being made to bring back the game to the position where it was earlier.

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