Wilfred ‘Freddy’ Vias: It was our first time playing in the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956. In fact it was a first time that a Malaysian team was playing in an international tournament overseas.
The only time I had been out of Malaya was when I went to Singapore to play the Singaporeans. So going to Melbourne was something new to all of us.
I can’t say that playing in the Olympics was a great thing. The Olympic Games and the Olympic ideals were just an idea sixty years ago. It is not like what it is today and for us it was just another tournament,…..another ordinary event.
The Olympics was not a big thing then nor was it a big deal playing in the Olympic Games hockey tournament. There was no celebration or fanfare when we were selected or when we returned home.
There was no television nor media hype in those days in Malaysia. We were a young team and just enjoyed playing hockey.
We did most of our training on our own. No long periods of centralised training like today. We just got together for a few days before leaving for Melbourne. In fact we went to the Olympics without a coach. Ted Higgins did not go with us and we had to foot the bill for our trip.
Our only practice matches for the Olympics were against the visiting Indian and Pakistani national teams on home ground. We were no match for them. Both were world class teams and far superior to us.
Yet we performed quite well against our Group B opponents. We drew with Great Britain (2-2) and Kenya (1-1) and lost to Australia (3-2).
In the classification matches we finished 9th out of 12 teams, beating Afghanistan 8-0; US 3-0; and Kenya 3-2.
As I look back, with a fading memory, we were a bunch of players who made sacrifices. We were probably the pioneers….the trail blazers for Malaysia’s future teams to the Olympics.
The 1956 Olympic team:
T. Nadarajah, Peter Van Huizen
M. Shanmuganathan, Chua Eng Cheng, Freddy Vias (Vice-Captain)
Gerry Toft, Philip Shankey, R. Selvanayagam (Captain), Gian Singh, Mike Sheperdson
Tommy Lawrence, Aminullah Karim, Hamzah Shamsuddin, Chua Eng Kim, Noel Arul,
S. Devendran, Sheikh Ali,
(Freddy Vias , born 8-10-1929, was a national player from 1954 until 1961.)