Thangavelu, hockey’s godfather in Kandy | Daily News


Thangavelu, hockey’s godfather in Kandy

P. Thangavelu
P. Thangavelu

Kandy’s greatest living hockey player, coach, umpire P. Thangavelu, a product of St. Anthony’s College and St. Sylvester’s College will be celebrating his 96th birthday soon, a perfect gentlemen. He always greets with a smile and during his days and was the most successful hockey player, coach, umpire and promoter of Kandy hockey has ever seen. During his playing days hockey was Kandy’s most popular game. He started his studies at St. Anthony’s College in 1937 and continued till this school became St. Sylvester’s College in 1941 and after leaving school he joined the staff of St. Sylvester’s College as Bursar and when the school was taken over by the Government he became a government servant and served for nearly 35 years. Then in 1983 he joined St. Anthony’s College staff as a Bursar accountant and retired in 2009 after twenty five years of service. For his good social and sports work he was appointed a Justice of peace in 1991.

During his school days he played hockey his favorite sport and football. At hockey he was a stylish player and an expert in ball-handling. Later he played club hockey for Young Stars SC and Kandy. Then he took up coaching and coached St. Sylvester’s for over 30 years and some of his products were S. Adikaram, Mervyn Rodrigo, Maithri Rajapakse, Nihal Samarasekera, A.J.J. Solamon brothers, S. Kumarlingam, T.S.Hasan, Davild brothers Gerad, Kingsllley, Sydney and Rodney, Malcolm Perera, S. Shanmugalingam, T.E. Badurdeen, M.Ayub, Sunil Perera, M.Razik, Ranjith Gunasekera, G.M.N.Fernando, Trevor Melder. Colombage brothers Edward and Ranjith to name a few.

He was a top class coach, and guided the players in the right path and selected the best players to play the game. He later became a top grade Umpire and was seen in most of the school and club matches with the whistle, where he was up to date on his job.

He was with the Kandy Distinct Hockey Association committee for over 50 years as a committee member, General Secretary, Vice President, Patron and advisor. He was also the treasurer of the Kandy Association Football League and Referees Association for nearly twenty years. He is also the treasurer of the Kandy and Sri Lnka schools Boxing Association. Then in social activities he was the General Secretary of the Central Province Hindu Association Trust, Member of the Sri Lanka India cultural association and committee member of the Peace and Harmony Association of the Kandy Gramaseva division.

He gave his best for hockey in Kandy for boys and girls schools and also helped the Municipal Council Play Grounds Department to promote hockey. There are over thousands of hockey players who learnt and corrected the game under his guidance.

In an article by P. Thnagavelu for the 37th National Hockey Championship which was held in Kandy in 1992, he has said in the magazine that he is delighted to write a brief account regarding Kandy hockey, record reveals that hockey in Kandy dates back to 1907. After the formation of the KDHA a few teams took part in the tournaments, St. Anthony’s under the name of (Hotspurs), Kingswood, Trinity (Rabits), Kandy Rovers, Imperial Motor Garage, Police and Indian students hostel, nurturing Kandy hockey. In 1938 Hotspurs hockey team was the league champions winning all their games and during the World War II a large number of clubs and schools including foreign teams took part in the game. He has also mentioned, people like ever green M.S. Jainudeen the secretary of KDHA went all out to popularize the game in Kandy. During this period he had the fullest support and co-operation of great players of the caliber of Philip Bultjens, H.W. Bobby Jayaweera, Sam Elhart, Robert Wright, the Robert brohers Dennis and Peter, A.L. Perumal, Leonidas James, M.I. Bin Ismail, and Freddie White, who was considered as the best goal keeper not only in Ceylon but also in Asia.

M.S. Jainudeen took over the reins as the president and he P. Thangavelu became the secretary of KDHA. The committee comprised of several gentlemen in the caliber of G.H. Robinson, S.P.F.C.S Charnivel SP Kandy, and Dr. Samad Ismail who later became president, Leslie Handunge, H.W. Bobby Jayaweera, Philip Bultjens, A.L. Perumal, H. Wijekoon, Parine Silva, and Fr. Dom George. It was during this period P.T.Rajan, donated a challenge trophy for the league tournament.

He also mentioned the service rendered by Roy de Silva who was one time a long standing president of the parent body and Kandy DHA.Then for a couple of years hockey in Kandy was in the doldrums. Thangavelu paid a tribute to Hafiz Marikar JP., MMC and sports writer from Kandy who spotlighted the activities of the KDHA in the paper in 1988. This opened the eyes of some youngsters in Kandy who formed clubs and played in the Kandy DHA tournament for the PT Rajan trophy. Due to various reasons even they could not carry tournaments in Kandy and Marikar brought in SSP – Lakshman Senavirthne to KDHA and his first task was to unite the clubs and members as one Unit., in which he was successful in this venture. Then he together with the committee organized the Men’s and Women’s tournament for the Himalaya challenge trophy for women and P. Thangaveloo trophy for men’s. Where KH & FC won both men and women’s tournament.

This account of the KDHA may not be a complete one due to the poor availability of records in the recent years.

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