Seven outstanding sportspersons were members of two families


Seven outstanding sportspersons were members of two families

Edgar, Egbert, Edna and Ellen along with their parents, Mary and Vincent.

Photo Credits: E4 Fernandes Family collection

To have a member in the family who has represented the country is always a matter of pride, but consider the pride of two families from Bardez who had four siblings from one family and three from the other who were outstanding sportspersons and went on to achieve fame in Kenya.


Alex Fernandes, who hails from Calangute and now lives in South London, was one of two or three Goans who played for Kenya. However, his great claim to fame was his brilliance with perhaps one of the greatest Goan football teams in Nairobi. He played at centre half but after he broke a leg in an international match playing for Kenya, he retreated to goalkeeping. 

Alex Fernandes

However, when he migrated to the UK, he played in virtually any position. He played in mainly the lower leagues in the days when it was rare to see a brown-skinned person playing with the whites. It was very hard getting into a team in those days.

However, in Kenya, along with Johnny Lobo, the late Saude George, Sabino who played barefoot or with elastic anklets when the playing field was too rough, Alex was not only a very respected sportsman but also a much loved one. Needless to say, he was a very popular player even with the opposing teams he played against.

Alex’s sister, Bertha, was an outstanding hockey and track star, presently lives in Canberra. His other sister, the late Alba, was also an outstanding hockey player and starred with the pioneer hockey team, Collegians, which featured mainly Goans. 


The late Egbert Fernandes, who hailed from Marna-Siolim, was among a rich vein of Kenyans who achieved stardom as triple hockey Olympian (Rome, Tokyo, Mexico) played in countless internationals and made even more appearances for his club, the Nairobi Goan Institute, the only club he played for n Kenya. He led the Kenyan attack at centre forward. He played like a dashing gazelle in full flight, like a pouncing cheetah, a flashing hunter. He twisted and turned, dummied to the right … and left, he led the defenders in a merry dance as flicked a pass in in either direction, or stretched out to push that ball just out of reach of the desperate defenders and in one movement smash the ball into the net. 

It was not long before Goans and the Sikhs were soon respected by the best in the world. It was all in the speed, low to the ground, a flick of the wrist and more cunning, producing the long hit, from the top of D, that shot into the goal like an unstoppable bullet.

Egbert’s brother, Edgar, was a stylish half-back hockey player. He never hurried and it looked like he all the time in the world but that was just fool the opposition. Speed was no problem. He was above all else a thinking man’s hockey star. 

Edgar once told me that “hockey intelligence” is the ability to create situations where your skills are utilised in a manner that produces a positive effect to your team’s advantage and, hopefully, eventual success.” It requires “peripheral vision” on a scale much greater than the average player, Using “deception” is a skill used to unsettle your opponents. Quick, quick, well-thought, instinctive decision making is vital and comes with great peripheral vision.

After Tokyo and Rome, Edgar concentrated on studies and on his return to Kenya taught in various schools where his hockey knowledge was in great demand as were his other teaching skills. 

Egbert and Edgar migrated to Australia with their families and joined later by their two sisters and their families. In Australia, Edgar played a lot of club and “Masters” hockey. He lives with his family in Melbourne. Their sisters, late Edna Monteiro and Ellen both starred for the Kenya hockey team. 

Other sportspersons hailing from Bardez who achieved fame in Kenya included Alu Mendonca (Anjuna), Reynold D'Souza (Saligao), Willie Lobo (Camorlim), Joe Lobo (Moira) and Peter Delgado (Ucassaim). 

(The writer was the first full-time sports journalist hired by Daily Nation in Nairobi, Kenya in 1960. In many ways, he changed the way sports was reported)

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