Noel's story continues to inspire

St John's alumni initiate Memorial Shield in honour of hockey prodigy

Noel's story continues to inspire

When it comes to inter-school football, cricket or hockey tournaments, the first thought that strikes the minds of the City folks is the Centenary Shield. And when it comes to an inter-collegiate hockey event, it has to be the Dr Isaac Memorial event.

Initiated by the alumni of St John’s Medical College in 1977 in memory of their colleague, the tournament has now gone on to become the oldest-running inter-collegiate hockey tournament in South India.

Having provided a stage to several Olympians and World Cuppers like Jude Felix, MP Somayya, Anil Aldrin, Sandeep Somesh, Mohammed Riyaz, MM Somaiah, Ashish Ballal and Sabu Varkey to showcase their skills with the successful conduct of the event, the alumni of St John’s Medical College is celebrating a special moment this year -- its Golden Jubilee.

To mark their remarkable journey, the doctors have now instituted a new event which will run along the sidelines of the Dr Isaac Memorial event from February 9-15 -- the  Dr Noel Rasquinha Memorial Shield.

“Noel was such a genius and he appeared destined to wear the national colours,” said Dr Praveen Rodrigues of his friend who passed away in February 2012 aged 47. “He was a brilliant right-half who could do wonders. He was part of the State junior and senior squad and was even called for national trials.

The best way of honouring our friend is to have a tournament in his name. This will also help spread the game that was so dear to him. He always kept talking about the game. With me to been a great hockey lover, I could relate to it.”

One person who shared a long relationship with Rasquinha was former national team captain Felix. Friends at the St Germain High School, the two went on to play together for the State sides before Felix made it to the top flight while Rasquinha missed the cut agonisingly before taking a complete plunge into medicine.

“He was a great talent. Not only was he good at hockey, he was brilliant in his studies something which most of us (players) could not manage. His stamina was amazing and was justly called Condor. He was one of the few players then who could scoop the ball on the run,” recollected Felix.

“In 1983, just after our PUC, we were called for the national trials. I was there from the very beginning but Noel missed most of it because he had to appear for medical exams. He made it to New Delhi for the last two days and impressed everyone in that little time.

“After a two-day train journey and wearing jeans and slippers, he could still dribble the ball like nobody. Stunningly, that was his first stint on astro-turf. A coach told me one day he’s going to make the national grade. But medicine came calling. I heard about his death two years ago and I was really saddened,” added Felix.

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