SYDNEY Australia --
Three of the best sprinters from the Coast during the glory days
of the 1950-60s were Seraphino Antao, Joe Faria, Albert Castanha.
A journo’s thanks with a labour of love: Former Kenyan
journalist and author Cyprian Fernandes is
embarking on his new book (working title: The Stars Next Door)
which he calls his own little tribute to all the Goan men and
women and their friends who shone on the fields of sports dreams
including soccer, cricket, hockey, and all the other outdoor and
indoor games that gave so much pleasure and entertainment to
generations of Kenyans from the Coast, to Nairobi, the Rift
Valley and Kisumu on the lake.
Fernandes also plans to features those entertained us through
music, song and dance.
Naturally, Mombasa and Coast looms large in the planned book
if only because Mombasa, for example, was the nursery for some
of the finest sprinters in the country, both male and female.
As aspect that been indelibly imprinted on the Kenyan DNA by
the double gold medal history making victories by Seraphino
Antao in Perth Australia 1962.
Mombasa could have easily have had five or six or seven
Olympians with the likes of Albert Castanha, Ali Yusuf, Joe
Faria, Jack Fernandes, Meldrita Viegas, Laura Ramos and lots of
What was it about the Kenyan coastal capital that
produced the largest number of male and female track
athletes, among them the greatest Goan athlete of all time:
the 1962 Commonwealth Games double sprint gold medallist
THE PART-TIME GLORY MAKERS:
There has never been a Goan or East African sprinter of his
• Was it the sea air, the fresh
fish curry and rice (Goan national staple diet), an abundant
array of fruit, fresh young delicious coconuts that continue
to live in the memory of those who tasted them, was it the
• The Mombasa Goan Institute, was
it the girls and boys Goan schools, was it the soft beach
sands of Mombasa, or was it
• The genius of coach Ray Batchelor
that was responsible for as many as five or six stunning
male sprinters (Albert Castanha, Joe Faria, Jack Fernandes,
Antao, Pascal) which moulded into the finest sprint relay
teams had ever seen and remained so for a long time, three
female sprinters, a couple of middle distance specialists, a
large number of soccer and hockey players (four or five who
played for Kenya), one of whom, Albert Castanha, played
international football and hockey for Kenya and was on the
verge of Olympic selection as a sprinter but sadly fell
short at the last moment?
• Was it the fact that they all
banded together and formed the wonderful Achilles Athletics
Club under Ray Batchelor and dragged each other beyond the
individual limits of achievement,
• Or was it just the nature of the
• It was a time before television
and there was little or nothing of interest on radio but
carrying doing the leisure things that had won their hearts
as young school children was the natural thing to do?
• Again, what set Antao apart from
• Was it the rivalry amongst them?
• Did they spur each other on?
Albert Castanha had dominated Antao and the others for many
years before Antao took off on his own towards gold medal glory.
Once he achieved his impossible dream, he was the toast of
the international track world. If only he had dragged the other
Goan sprinters with him, what a wonderful world that might have
• Similarly, what was it about the
mild temperate climate in Nairobi at around 6000 feet above
• Was it the dust, from the murram
fields the young players practised on, the Dr Ribeiro Goan
School which produced all of the Goan Olympians born in
Kenya and some from outside Kenya or was school coach and
teacher Anthony De Souza the factor.
Many will swear that it was really De Souza’s coaching
skills, honed on his own experiences of playing for the
Lusitanians in Bombay and other parts of India that made the