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All things good and Goan: 'Stars Next Door' by Cyprian Fernandes | Coastweek

Albert Castanha [top left] while meeting the Governor of Kenya Sir Patrick Renison. Albert [top right] with a breathless Seraphino Antao. Three fine sprinters: Castanha [lower left] with Laura Ramos and Antao. Albert Castanha [lower right], who was perhaps the greatest all-round Kenyan athlete of his time. ALL PHOTOS - COURTESY; CYPRIAN FERNANDES

Albert Castanha of Mombasa: Greatest Goan all-round sports star

Goans from the Kenya Coast, who excelled in sports and music, have a starring role in Cyprian Fernandes’*  new book 'Stars Next Door'.

Before Seraphino Antao became first Kenyan to win double gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, there was another sprinter who beat him regularly:

Albert Castanha, who was perhaps the greatest all-round Kenyan athlete of his time. Fernandes shines a huge spotlight on him:

ALBERT CASTANHA: aka "Legs Castanha" or "The Cat" The late sports genius began playing football while at school.

He went on to play for the Mombasa GI "A" team and played in all the Coast Province Football tournaments as a centre forward.

Later he moved to the right wing but injuries forced into the goalkeeper position where he enjoyed stunning success.

He was selected for the Coast provincial team and played for them from 1958 to 1963.

He later joined the Liverpool Football Club where they won all the tournaments.

He played in goal against such big name teams Mohan Bhagan of India, A.I.K Sweden, Tanzania Combined etc.




Kenya National Athletics team 1957 - Albert Castanha is shown third from left bottom row.
His big moment came when he became one of the few Goans to represent Kenya in the Gossage Cup, the premier Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania triangular tournament.

Other Goans who played in the Gossage were Alex Fernandes, Oscar D’Mello, and Saude George. Albert also played for Kenya in various internationals.

Albert captained the Coast Province team from 1959 to 1964 and was the provincial coach from 1958 to 1963.

He was easily recognised as the greatest Goan all round sportsman of his time.

He was brilliant in soccer, hockey, cricket, athletics (sprinting), badminton and virtually any sport he put his mind to.

This was indeed a great Goan.

Perhaps the greatest Goan all-rounder anywhere.

Soccer, hockey, athletics and much more, he was brilliant in almost every sport he played.

He played for the MGI for 30 years, captained it often.

He played for the Coast XI from 1955 until 1970. He was also the Coast provincial coach.

The Kenya Hockey Union sent him to Karachi in 1981 for a prestigious coaching course.

He played on the left wing, inside left or left half.

His first match was in 1955 and his last for the MGI was in 1990.

What an absolute champion. Deserved international representation.

ATHLETICS: Represented Kenya in: 100 and 220 yards sprints, 120 high hurdles, high jump and 4X100 relay.

He was awarded the Victor Ludorum (the best all-round athlete) in 1955 and 1957.

He captained both the Coast and Mombasa GI teams for many years.

In 1956 he equalled the Kenya 100 yards record.

He was part of the 100 yards Kenya relay team that set records in the East African Championships.

He was a contender for the 1956 Olympics but was disappointed by the selectors.

In 1960, he won both sprints at the MGI, Coast, Kenya and East African meets.

His best times were 9.6 and 21.3.

Unfortunately, there was always one man, Seraphino Antao, who stood in his way to international stardom.

In 1958 Liverpool Mombasa FC won the coveted Kenya FA Cup. Former mayor of Mombasa Rajab Sumba [third from left back row] is seen with Joe Gonsalves, Goal keeper Albert Castanha [in black shirt], Effie Antao, and Joe Fernandes. Placed on the floor [left and right] are Riziki and Amrani Shiba. The European with glasses [seated third from left] is Gary Coventry who at that time was President of Mombasa District Soccer Association. Long time Mombasa sports fan Alihussein Namajee recalls that the team included: Chuba, Hamisi Toto, Msuo, Nassir Doran, Albert Castanha, Effie Antao, Joe Fernandes, Robert Samuel and Hassan Zima Taa. Former players and officials for Liverpool also included: Msuo Mohamed, Sare, Hassan Zima Taa, Kefa, Wilbert Scooter, Robert Samuel, Joe Gonsalves, Lucas Remedios, Tony Masky, Ray Hough, Juma Ferunzy and Babangia.

In 1958, for example, Ali Yusuf, Albert and Seraphino tied for the fastest 100 yards in Kenya with a time of 9.8.

The battle for supremacy between is the stuff of movie block-busters.

There were many times when Albert outraced Seraphino and vice versa.

The third musketeer in this triology was a guy called Ali Yusuf and fourth Joe Faria, all from the Coast, who were just as fast as each on their day.

At a GI Nairobi meeting, for example, Albert beat Seraphino in both sprints with Eddie Rodrigues filling the third birth each time.

A few other interesting results at the same meeting:

440 yards: 1. S, Antao, 2. R, Caiado, 3. Bruno De Souza. 120 yard hurdles: 1. Mario. Carvalho, 2. A. Castanha, 3. S. Antao. High Jump: 1. S. Antao. Pole vault: Anthony Vaz, 2. Avito D’Souza, 3 Murian D’Souza.

Women: 100 yards: 1. Trifa De Souza, 2. Laura Ramos, 3. Rosarette. 220 yards, 1. Trifa De Souza, 2. Laura Ramos, 3. Phila Fernandes. Shot put: 1 Laura Ramos, 2 Trifa De Souza, 3 Irene Coelho (later De Souza). Long jump: 1. Laura Ramos.

However, when competing for selection in the 1956 Olympics, Albert ran fourth in the 100 and second in 220.

He did not get a place in the team.

One of the many exciting line ups Albert played for the Mombasa GI hockey team: Justin Dourado, Mervyn De Souza, Anthony Vaz, Albert Castanha (captain), Walter Cardoso, Alban Fernandes, Franklyn Pereira, Leslie Pinto, Silvano Pinto, Louis Castelino and Reynolds Pereira.


All things good and Goan: 'Stars Next Door' by Cyprian Fernandes


Cyprian Fernandes | Coastweek


* Cyprian Fernandes is a former Nation Chief Reporter and veteran investigative journalist who currently lives in Sydney Australia.



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