Star netballer, Super coach and QUEEN | Daily News
LOURDES DE ALWIS

Star netballer, Super coach and QUEEN

Lourdes was the North Star in the galaxy of Netball stars. Coming from a sporting family from down Mutwal way in the 1970s and dominating in the game of netball for a near two decades in school,club and country was the versatile LOUDES DE ALWIS.

Having her early education at one of the leading girls school in Colombo, Good Shepherd Convent, Kotahena which school produced a galaxy of netballers who shone in the netball firmament, LOURDES learnt her early netball lessons there.

LOURDES and the netballers of that era had the good fortune of coming under coaches who were the envy of other coaches in Cynthia Rasquingho, Nancy de Silva and Sunimal Kamburupitiya -- all dedicated to their job and exemplary in their manner and use of skill

Outstanding netballers

Many were the outstanding netballers the coaches produced with their discipline, dedication and devotion.

Going down the Good Shepard memory lane names that come to mind are Logie Satchinandan the first ever netball queen, the three Appiah sisters Thilaka, Andawathie and Lalith. Then there was Anne Edirisinghe, Anne Talayaratne, Caryl de Silva, Antoinette and Angelina Sebastian, Thomazine Salvador, Mangelika Fernando, LOURDES’ three sisters Thekla, Francisca and Florence and Carmelita Philips to name a few.

Esteemed girls’ school

The perennial ‘THOSE WERE THE DAYS MY FRIEND’ by Mary Hopkins comes flooding back to mind when writing about netball and the netballers in that esteemed girls’ school in the 1960s and 1970s. They were star class netballers who hit the top in the academic field as well.

And to emerge from that galaxy of netballers and one who shone like the moon among stars was LOURDES DE ALWIS with a cherubic smile and who was a favourite of the crowd wherever she put her shinning netball wares on show in the game.

‘Come on LOURDIE’, Go LOURDIE go’ were the loud shouts of her supporters when she stepped into the court and she did not let her school, club or the national team down producing the best and nothing but the best and during her reign she was acknowledge as the best in the country.

Eight sporty siblings

LOURDES came from a family that had a total of eight sporting siblings which include sisters Theckla, Francisca and Florence and brothers Joy, Birchman, Aloy ad Stanley.

Her three sisters were also top notch netballers like her, while her two brothers Joy and Birchman played cricket for St.Joseph’s College, Darley Road.

Birchman an outstanding left arm spinner captained the school and brother Joy opened bowling. Later both played for Nondescript CC with success.

LOURDES in addition to her prowess at netball was also good at table tennis and hockey. As a 16-year old she had the distinction of captaining the under-16 and under-19 teams in both sports. Graduating from school, she played for Shamrocks Sports Club a formidable club in that era.

Made Municipality champs

But her best years in netball came when she joined the Colombo Municipality as a Playground Instructress in the 1960s. She contributed to make CMC champions regularly.

While at CMC she won national colours when she played against Singapore Crusaders and British Airways netball teams. Some of the players who played with Lourdes in the CMC team that come to mind are - Nanda Rodrigo, Yasa Alahakoon and Ramaya Jayawickrema.

In that era a much looked forward to netball tournament was the Nuwara Eliya Invitation Netball tournament during the holiday season in which tournament she became netball queen on three occasions. She was also All Island Netball Queen in the regular competition organized by Lake House.

When netball in the Colombo Municipal Council and its success in sport is spoken about the name that readily comes to mind and a name that remains etched in the memory of the writer and still spoken about in awe is that of Municipal Commissioner B.A.Jayasinghe.

Sports loving Commissioner

Jayasinghe a sports loving commissioner also supported the cricket and football teams. The cricket team was named Nomads CC and had some brilliant cricketers led by Charity Commissioner D.H.de Silva a former University and Sri Lanka cricketer.

‘D.H’ was the brother of one of the best leg spinning all rounders to play and captain the country and who later became Interim Committee Chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket DS de Silva and who saw to the construction of the Sooriywewa and Pallekelle International cricket stadiums. Nomds under ‘DH’ won the Sara Trophy. The footballers obliged winning the plum of football, the Football Association Cup.

LOURDES was an outstanding wing attack and after doing her bit for Municipality she threw in her lot with the Maharaja Organization that was going great guns in cricket at that time winning the Mercantile A division on numerous occasions.

Cream of netballers

The Organization formed a netball team comprising the cream of netballers of that time. We recall most about Lourdes is how she thrilled fans as she captained and steered the Maharaja Organization to beat the invincible Municipality her old club and emerge All Island Champions. The champion team was tagged – MAGNIFICENT MAHARAJA SEVEN’. That was the time when the popular film the ‘Magnificent Seven’ was a craze in the theatres. Maharajas held sway for many years.

The Maharaja hit squad comprised - Lourdes de Alwis (C), Caryll de Silva, Ranjini Perera, Florence de Alwis, Ulrika Fernando, Ashanthi Samarasinghe, Carmen de Silva, Marina Jordan, Mayanne de Silva, Rohini Perera, Eileen Davidson, Charmaine Rodrigo and Suzanne Anghie.

In appreciation of having won several netball titles, the Chairman and Managing Director of MO who was a keen sports enthusiast and promoter who had dome much for cricket R. Rajamahendren rewarded the team with a tour of Singapore. LOURDES captained that team. Where are sports lovers and promoters of the calibre of Jayasinghe and Rajamahendren now?

While employed at Maharajas she represented Sri Lanka in netball and toured Scotand, Wales and Ireland. While still at Maharajas she was appointed coach of the national team youth team.

Second to none

As a coach she was second to none. She coached Buona Vista Playground netball team, the Maharaja Organisation, Air Lanka and soon became national coach of the team that toured MALAYSIA for the Commonwealth Games and the team for the World Championships in New Zealand in 1999.

LOURDES in the holder of a silver medal in netball umpiring and is in possession of the Inter-Mediate certificate awarded by Australian coach Pamela Barham. She also holds a certificate in Sports Science.

She followed a one month training course under Australian Institute of Sports Science in Sri Lanka. She also coached the Hatton National Bank netballers to win many tournaments.

A legend indeed!

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