Monday, September 12, 2011

RIP Peter van Huizen

It was a sad morning as I received news on the demise of Peter van Huizen, a dear friend, coach and above all one of my mentors in hockey during my days in Negeri Sembilan.

My relationship with Peter began in 1985 when the Seeemban Municipal Council team was formed. And he coached the various keepers in the MPS team then, right from Hamdan Hamzah who played for the National Juniors in 1989, Osbert Pinto ( a winger turned goalkeeper - also handpicked by Pete), to the likes of Sani ( from Singapore) till Mohd Nasihin Nubli Ibrahim. Peter stayed loyal with MPS and YNS.

He was a joy to work with, be it in the club or various state teams and often we would share a cup of coffee as he will share his stories with me. Mind you Peter did not talk much but though his stern and cold stare would put many to fear, it was his gentle nature that I remember the best.

More often then not, we would both lose our heads on the bench during matches, so much so that we came to a compromise, that only one should do so. But blowing it hot was his nature though I admit he cools down a lot faster then most people.

My friend is no more today, and though we did say that we will catch up for coffee someday, he became dearer to god before we could sit down for a chat, and this is something that I will regret.

Only memories of him soothe the pain I feel with his untimely death. To his, wife of 52 years Angeline, brother Lawrence, son Adrian, nephew Stephen, I offer my condolences and may god bless his soul.

Read on an article about Pete that was published earlier.
"Always use your head" were the words uttered by the teachers at St Paul's Institution (SPI) in Seremban, when Peter van Huizen was a student there in the 1950s.

That advice was to follow Peter to the field later when he used his head to head the hockey ball during matches.

In those days, the goalkeepers did not wear helmets, chest pads or gloves for protection.

The first time he headed the ball was in a hockey match in Malacca in 1952.

Peter was a late bloomer as he only started playing hockey when he was 20 years old.

He happened to be at the NS padang, and was invited to play for the Negri Sembilan Ceylonese Association (NSCA).

Peter has also played football for clubs such as the Negri Sembilan Indians Association (NSIA) and Seremban Rangers, the Negri state team in 1952 and represented Malaysia at the 1959 SEAP Games in Bangkok.

Peter proved to be a great athlete. He was among the 18 young men who represented Malaysia at the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956 and the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo. Peter was even voted as the world's Best Goalkeeper in 1956.

In those days, the squad trained four hours a day at the TPCA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur to prepare for the Olympics.

They had to pay their own airfares then, and Peter, though selected for the 1960 Olympics in Rome, could not afford to travel to because he had just got married and was cash strapped.

Prior to his involvement in hockey, Peter had already proved his mettle in football when he represented Malaysia in 1952 in a Four Nations quadrangular in Kuala Lumpur.

Peter, 77, who was born in Seremban in 1932, is one of those rare sportsmen who became a double international, excelling in hockey and football.

His grandfather came from Indonesia, while his father Alexis van Huizen was a government servant and his energetic mother, Grace Mos Virgin, was a housewife caring for 16 children.

Peter was the thirteenth child while his elder brother, Lawrence, the father of ex-national coach Stephen, was the eleventh.

Both the brothers were assistant coaches to Wlliam Fidelis who steered the Malaysia team to the bronze at the Women's Intercontinental Cup in 1989.

The father of two married sons, Terence and Adrian, Peter served as a Telecomms Department (TD) technician from the age of 16 while his wife Angeline was an athlete and hockey player for TD. Angeline was a telephone operator in the same department.

Following in Peter's footsteps, Terence played hockey for Police while Adrian was a Negri Razak Cupper.

In recognition of his service to the state, the late Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan Tuanku Ja'afar Tuanku Abdul Rahman conferred him the Pingat Jasa Kebaktian (PJK) in 1969.

When asked what kept him going all those years in football and hockey, Peter said: "My love for sports started when I was a 10-year-old pupil in SPI.

"SPI produced many Eurasians who represented Negri and Malaysia such as the Boudvilles, Dankers, Nunises, Sta Marias, Fidelises and of course the van Huizens.

"My passion to serve the community has always been etched deep in my heart and by God's grace, I will keep on going as long as I am healthy.

"My current pastime is wacthing old Western movies on TV compared to the 1960-1970s where, as a family, we used to watch football and hockey 'live' at the NS Padang in town.

"My advice to youngsters who want to excel in sports is: play your hearts out for the country, do not think about the perks, be proud to don national colours and hear our beloved national anthem, Negaraku on the loud speakers at the stadium especially when you win an international tournament.

"The finest example was ex-Paulian, the late Datuk Ho Koh Chye who was a trainee goalkeeper under my tutelage in the 1960s and made Malaysia proud not only as an athlete but as a teacher, coach, official and sports administrator until his death last year."

Two of Peter's grandsons, Matthew and Luke, are following in his footsteps. Matthew played as a hockey goalkeeper for SPI in the boys' Under-18 team while Luke was the custodian in the Under-15 team at the distict schools meet in 2009.