India’s noted athletics official and administrator Anthony John de Souza died early Thursday (21). He was 67.
AJ, as he was popularly known in sports circles, was a multi-faceted personality. After his parents migrated to Chennai, he received his education at Loyola College where he exemplified his athletic proficiency as an immaculate sprinter-jumper. A highly disciplined athlete, his talent was spotted by Ken Bosen, the distinguished coach and the Rev. Fr. Sean McFerran.
AJ initiated the foundation of the dynamic Don Bosco Athletic Club in 1960. An avid athletics official, de Souza efficiently conducted the Club first as its Secretary and later become its Chief Administrator. His experience as a traveling salesman for the Explosives Division of the multinational ICI brought him many friends in all corners of the country. He expertly managed the job as well as the Club and organised a large number of sports meets. He was held the post of joint secretary in Tamil Nadu amateur athletic association for a brief period.
The Kiddies Athletic Meet which turned out to be the starting point for many of the city’s students to pursue their athletic career was the brainchild of AJ. He also successfully conducted the annual Combined Events’ meet which helped many of the country’s top level athletes to identify their hidden talents.
Apart from organising the meets, AJ also trained a large number of national and international level athletes. S. Balasubramaniam, Yasmin Saifuddin, Errol Hart, Meena Gopal and Praveen Fernandes were noted among his large list of disciples. For his contribution he was awarded with the Honorary Life Membership of the International Track and Field Coaches Association.
AJ didn’t stop with that. Basically a humorous person he had been a cartoonist and writer in the later part of his life, AJ authored a number of books on athletics from officiating to the sport’s management. His love towards the ‘combined events’ lead him to write the last of his works - Romancing the Decathlon!
A highly respected person, AJ had been a constructive critic but also a lovable friend for those who respect the ethics of the sport. With his departure the country lost a diligent connoisseur.
Ram. Murali Krishnan for the IAAF