A hero to many dies at 89

By January 25, 2021 No Comments

A hero to many dies at 89

Published on August 18. 2019 | by

OLYMPIAN Lawrence van Huizen passed away yesterday. He was 89. Coming from a famous hockey-loving family in Seremban, he had touched many lives in Negri Sembilan and the nation.

He not only played for the national team but also contributed as a coach.

Popularly known as Hoeji, Lawrence represented Malaysia at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and also coached the national men’s team in the 1970s.

Hockey runs in his family. His son, Stephen, played in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and in various tournaments before becoming a coach.

He was the coach when Malaysia played in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and also guided them in several other tournaments.

Lawrence’s grandson, Joel played in last year’s Bhubaneswar World Cup.

Lawrence never got a chance to play in the World Cup as it was only incepted in 1971.

But the former SMK St Paul student had coached many hockey players, who went on to represent the country.

It would be difficult to emulate Lawrence as hockey ran in the veins of this remarkable man more than the mixed Dutch and Portuguese blood.

Lawrence, who also represented Negri in the Burnley Cup (football), coached his Alma Mater’s Under-18 hockey team for 43 years, from 1958 to 2002, for free.

He also coached Seremban Convent School for free.

In his coaching days, Lawrence would immediately head to the hockey pitch to coach St Paul’s boys and girls’ teams after finishing work at the Standard Chartered Bank.

There was so much of competition between Lawrence and Tunku Besar Secondary School (TBS) Tampin coach S. Sivapathasundram, who died in 2010, then that it created a perfect storm to churn out many national players.

And whenever St Paul and Tampin played in the Schools District final, the Seremban grass pitch would be packed to the brim with fans, so much so that the sidelines would be trampled and would only become visible when the ball goes out of play.

Lawrence’s greatest moment in his coaching career was when five of his charges made the 1979 Paris Junior World Cup team.

The five were his son Stephen, Collin Sta Maria, Derek Fidelis, Kevin Nunis and William Lazaroo.

Lawrence also played alongside his younger brother, the late Peter, in the 1958 Tokyo and 1962 Jakarta Asian Games.

He was one of the coaches involved in helping Malaysia finish a creditable fourth in the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.

He also coached the national women’s team for five years from 1981.

This scribe remembers Lawrence as a dedicated man, who would be on the pitch come rain or shine, as he always placed his players above everything else and gave much of his time to hockey until he retired from coaching St Paul in 2002 because of a nagging knee problem.

But he never stopped reading articles on hockey and kept abreast of the sport until his final days.

This scribe offers his deepest condolences to Stephen and Joel for their big loss.

He leaves behind his wife, Doreen Philomina, seven children and 12 grandchildren.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal said the MHC are deeply saddened with the passing of a hockey great.

“Lawrence does not need any introduction among hockey lovers as his contributions to the sport speak for itself,” he said.

The wake will be held at 832, Taman Nee Yan, Jalan Temiang, 70200 Seremban until tomorrow.

Mass will be celebrated in his honour at 10am on Tuesday at the Church of the Visitation in Seremban, followed by burial at the Kajang Catholic cemetery.