Ex-Goa cop and player, Sydney, living his hockey dream in Britain

In the UK, Sydney plays for the Swindon Hockey Club in Saxon Division 1; says Goans Hockey not doing enough for hockey in Goa
TEAM SPIRIT: While playing hockey, Sydney Fernandes learnt that teamwork and unity among players was very important.
TEAM SPIRIT: While playing hockey, Sydney Fernandes learnt that teamwork and unity among players was very important.Photo: Gomantak Times

BY ARMSTRONG VAZ

Time management is the buzzword these days, and learning how to manage it well can hold one in good stead. And, that’s exactly what one Goan sportsman credits for the sporting successes in his life.

The time management skills – for sports and studies – learnt in school have played an important role in the life of this former Goan policeman, and UK-based hockey player, Sydney Fernandes.

TEAM SPIRIT: While playing hockey, Sydney Fernandes learnt that teamwork and unity among players was very important.
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“What I learnt while playing hockey is that teamwork, and unity among players, is very important, just as time management, when it comes to sports and studies,” says England-based Sydney, who has been playing hockey for the Swindon Hockey Club in Saxon Division 1 for the last nine years.

“Hockey, like any other game, teaches us discipline, which Goa State coach, Alexander Remedios always wanted. He used to say, ‘If you don’t have discipline, you cannot be a good player',” Sydney says, recalling his days in Goa.

NUMERO UNO: At 15, 
 Sydney Fernandes was the youngest to represent Goa in the U-19 hockey team.
NUMERO UNO: At 15, Sydney Fernandes was the youngest to represent Goa in the U-19 hockey team.

Having played for Goa for five years at the senior level, and having captained the State team including on a trip to Portugal, the Tivim-born player is in awe of the infrastructural facilities on offer for sportspeople in Europe.

“The infrastructure throughout the United Kingdom cannot be compared with that anywhere in Asia,” expresses Sydney.

TEAM SPIRIT: While playing hockey, Sydney Fernandes learnt that teamwork and unity among players was very important.
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GOAN SPORTSMEN IN THE UK

Sydney made the journey to England in 2015, after giving up his job as Police Sub Inspector (PSI) with Goa Police. He is also happy that a Goan-origin player – James Mazarello, with roots in Velim – plays for the England national team.

“It’s a great achievement for a local guy to shine and play for England and Great Britain. The Great Britain team players are selected from three countries – England, Scotland and Wales – where competition is high,” he says, adding that James keeps the goal for the Great Britain senior team.

DESTINATION UK: In 2015, Sydney gave up his job as Police Sub Inspector (PSI) with Goa Police, and headed to the UK.
DESTINATION UK: In 2015, Sydney gave up his job as Police Sub Inspector (PSI) with Goa Police, and headed to the UK.

He adds, “Many Goans play hockey for different clubs in England. These include Clinton Gama, from Cortalim, who is also a part of the Swindon Hockey Club.”

THE HOCKEY JOURNEY

Sydney’s hockey journey began at St Ann’s High School, Tivim, from Class 5 to 7. “I started playing hockey at age 10, under coach Eletar Fernandes, the State coach at St Ann’s,” he recalls.

TEAM SPIRIT: While playing hockey, Sydney Fernandes learnt that teamwork and unity among players was very important.
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At a young age, he knew what he had to do in terms of taking his game to the next level. Helped by supportive parents, he suggested a change in school so as to give his game a much-needed push, with quality players playing alongside him.

“The school team was not progressing well, so I decided to move on to a school that was better in sports since I was interested in getting an opportunity to play at the national level,” he says.

TEAM SPIRIT: While playing hockey, Sydney Fernandes learnt that teamwork and unity among players was very important.
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“After joining Fr Agnel High School, Pilar – under State coach Remedios and some players from Bihar and Orissa who were also students at Pilar – I improved my hockey skills and team play. This helped me reach the school team the very next year. And, at age of 14, coach Fernandes selected me for the Goa U-16 team,” he adds.

“At 15, I was the youngest to represent Goa in the U-19 team. The previous year, the Goa U-19 team had played outstanding hockey and reached the quarterfinal at the all-India level, under coach Remedios,” he mentions.

IN THE BEGINNING: Sydney’s hockey journey started at the age of 10 at St Ann’s School, Tivim.
IN THE BEGINNING: Sydney’s hockey journey started at the age of 10 at St Ann’s School, Tivim.

With some great mentors at Pilar – in the form of national players like Sushil Tirkey, Jela Ekka and Cyprian Kido – Sydney made rapid strides and played for Goa at the U-16, U-17, U-19, U-21, U-25 level, Goa University, in different tournaments all over India.

GOING PLACES

“In 2008, the Goa team was given an opportunity to represent the India team in Lisbon, Portugal, under coach Remedios where we played the Lisbon selection and Portugal national team,” he says.

Sydney is unhappy with the fact that although Goa got an astro turf recently, the facilities are not in top condition.

“I was made the captain, yet again, this time at the international level. In the first match, we played the Lisbon selection which scored an early goal," he says.

"In the second half, after a motivation talk, we played better hockey, and managed to get two penalties – and I scored both – helping us win 2-1 at the international level,” Sydney adds.

TEAM SPIRIT: While playing hockey, Sydney Fernandes learnt that teamwork and unity among players was very important.
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“In the second match, we played Portugal, going down 5-2 and faced Portugal again in the final,” he shares.

Sydney recalls Remedios’ words before the final, and says, “He told us not to worry about anything, but go and enjoy the match as we will never play at the international level again. After a decent performance, we lost the final 5-3, thus winning the silver medal.”

Sydney is unhappy with the fact that although Goa got an astro turf recently, the facilities are not in top condition.

Sydney opines the Goans Hockey association is not making significant efforts to promote hockey.

“There is an astro turf at Peddem, Mapusa, but the facilities are not proper. There are issues with water pumps and high usage fees for players,” he reveals, while being critical of the approach of Goans Hockey, the body governing and controlling the game in the State.

Sydney opines the Goans Hockey association is not making significant efforts to promote hockey. Apart from organising a State championship for current players, the association does not provide any additional support, he rues. This leaves players and clubs to organise their own tournaments and fund them independently, he adds.

TEAM SPIRIT: While playing hockey, Sydney Fernandes learnt that teamwork and unity among players was very important.
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In Goa, after toiling on the hockey field, he got a job in the police department under the sports quota. “I worked with the Reserve Police and Tourist Police. I got a police job on sports merit as a sportsman,” says the ex-cop, who holds Dhanraj Pillai as his hockey idol.

Sydney, who now works as team leader at Great Western Packaging, in England, also laments that there is ‘no grassroots development’ by Goans Hockey, and coaches are not sent for refresher training courses outside the State.

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