Father of Coimbatore Hockey
Hockey Coach A. Claudius Dyas was a renowned hockey coach in Coimbatore who has produced many hockey players. He was coached by the wizard of Indian Hockey Maj. Dhyan Chand.
"Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; and shall not stand before mean men"
The sports fraternity of Coimbatore will never forget this trim, tall, dark, bespectacled hockey coach – A. Claudius. He was born in Ootacamund, Nilgiris District as the 4th child of Augustine Dyas, a great shikari who assisted the Maharaja of Mysore during his game hunting. Even as a youngster he took keen interest in field hockey, the national game of India.
In the year of our Independence, he started his career as a Physical Education Teacher in St. Michael's High School, Coimbatore. He played an enviable role in bringing St. Michael's (which celebrated its sesquicentennial last year(2010)) to the limelight as a school which excelled in sports.
At the age of forty he got the opportunity to join the National Institute of Sports, Patiala. This was a great leap forward in his life. Under the tutelage of the all time great Wizard of Indian Hockey Maj. Dhyan Chand, he mastered the intricacies of the game. Later he quit the post of a Physical Education Teacher and joined the Coimbatore District Sports Council and served as a District Hockey Coach till his retirement.
During these years he birthed many hockey stalwarts. He imparted the skills of hockey to any youngster who came to learn the game. None could help admiring his dexterous stickwork and tactics. The nuances of field hockey were manifested through him. The rules of the game were afresh in his mind. Even the slightest infringement would never go unnoticed from his sharp left eye. Alas! he was totally blind in his right eye, the fact which was known only to a few close associates. It was Divine Providence, which bestowed this half-blind person the accuracy to convert spectacular goals and a flawless career. Of course, he was backed by the fervent prayers of his mother, still hockey was in his blood.
During his brief stint as a hockey coach, he produced many ace hockey players. He also inculcated in them the spirit of sportsmanship, discipline, morality and fairplay. He groomed them for a noble career. His expertise was visible through the skills of his trainees. To name a few, Mr. K. Shanmugham who was nicknamed as Prithipal Singh of the South, Mr. Balasundaram, Mr. Krishnamohan, Mr. Murali Manohar, Mr. Balashanmugham, Mr. Udayakumar, Mr. Ganesan, Mr. Sivaguru, Mr. Merwyn Jussy, Mr. Paul Sudhakar and Mr. Ramakrishnan (Ramkee) the present Coimbatore District Hockey Coach. He has coached the former Director General of Tamilnadu Police Mr. Walter Isaac Dewaram. He was also held in very high esteem by the then eminent Inspector General of Tamilnadu Police Mr. Arul, who was also an ardent hockey player.
He demitted office in 1985, still his fervour for the game never diminished. He still coached or officiated matches within Tamilnadu. For many years he acted as a Jury of Appeal for the Karunya Evangeline Memorial Tournaments. He always made it a point to be punctual and to travel on his own accord.
His passion for hockey was highlighted in the columns of "The Hindu" as "Even at 80, this lion still roars." Eventhough his health was deteriorating, he remained an active, vibrant and agile sportsman. The vision in his left eye was also failing, but he was unwavering in collecting, updating and distributing the statistics of World Cup and Olympic Hockey, to sports lovers. For this diligent work he was also appreciated by the top brass of Indian Hockey, Ex-Director General of Punjab Police, Mr. K.P.S. Gill.
Age could not wither his love for hockey and his steady contribution to the development of hockey. Undoubtedly, he did bestride the Coimbatore Hockey World like a Colossus. His death on June 2nd, 2010 after a brief illness, was an irreparable loss to all the sports personnel of Coimbatore and hockey lovers in particular. An eminent sportscribe of "The Hindu" on 3rd June 2010 wrote a wonderful tribute to this legend of hockey, by captioning , "Father of Coimbatore Hockey is no more", which has also entered into the present web world posthumously. Though he has no children of his own, he has left behind a progeny of hockey players. "Here was a Claudius, when comes such another?".