Hard taskmaster on the hockey field, whizz in the kitchen – farewell William Fidelis

Not many know this, but Negeri Sembilan hockey icon William Fidelis, was also a good cook.

Fidelis, who coached countless national players, including Olympians, died yesterday, after a long illness. He was 87.

He was part of the women’s national team coaching set-up that helped Malaysia to the gold medal at the 1983 SEA Games, and a bronze at the Inter-Continental Cup the same year.

Besides cooking the day-to-day meals when time permitted, he handled most of the cooking during Christmas, yelling out to his wife Muriel Sta Maria and their children – as if they were the players he coached.

He was a hard taskmaster on the field and in the kitchen, one who always demanded perfection. And it showed in the dishes he cooked, and players he coached.

Each Christmas, everyone looked forward to his Devil curry and vindaloo, just two of the many dishes he was known for.

William (standing, far left) at a family gathering several years ago.

To others, he was always William – not Will or Bill. But to his nephews and nieces, he was chi chi.

“He used to call me chi chi when I was little. I, in turn, called him that. The name stuck, with the other nephews and nieces also calling him that,” said niece Michelle Sta Maria.

“He used to joke that my name was Michelle Sta Maria/Fidelis.”

In a way, Fidelis and his wife were like second parents to many of his nephews and nieces. His wife earned the moniker ‘Mummy Lobak’ as they used to stay in Jalan Lobak in Seremban.

I usually stayed with them during the school holidays, and lived with them for a year when I was in Form Two.

Fidelis was a ‘loud’ man, either as a coach or spectator at hockey matches, criticising players’ mistakes or encouraging them.

He enjoyed all sports, played rugby, and was an accomplished boxer, which is why he loved Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky movies.

But hockey was a passion. He and another Seremban hockey icon, Lawrence van Huizen, dedicated their lives to coaching their alma mater, St Paul’s Institution, as well as Convent Holy Infant Jesus.

The duo coached both schools for free, besides handling the state team and national assignments.

Fidelis and van Huizen were inducted into the Negeri Sembilan Hockey Association Hall of Fame in 2015.

Nearly every Negeri Sembilan hockey player – male and female, who went on to represent the country from the 1970s until the 2000s – was under their tutelage at one time or another.

The love for hockey was passed on to Fidelis’ children, with five sons representing Negeri Sembilan in various tournaments.

Two of them, Derek and Gary, went on to play for Malaysia in tournaments such as the Olympics and Asian Games.

Besides Gary, other players under Fidelis’ tutelage who played in the Olympics were Colin Sta Maria, Kevin Nunis, S. Suriaghandi and Stephen van Huizen, Lawrence’s eldest son.

Another proud moment came when five St Paul’s students – Stephen, Colin, Derek, Kevin and William Lazaroo – played key roles as Malaysia finished fourth in the 1979 Junior World Cup.

Farewell, chi chi.

The cortege will leave for service at the Church of The Visitation Funeral Parlour tomorrow at 1.30pm and thereafter to the Fairy Park Crematorium, Sendayan.

Daily prayers (8pm) will be held at 23, Jalan Nuri Indah 6, Taman Bukit Nuri Indah, Rasah Jaya, Seremban.

Contact persons: Derek (0183586327), Colin (0169771545), Donna (0172049046)

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