KOCHI: “I think that the best way to go would be training the kids at the Parade Ground. Till my last breath, I want to continue coaching,” Rufus D’Souza says. It’s not that Rufus, who will turn 90 in July, is pondering over subjects like mortality. In fact, the veteran coach simply wants to dedicate all his living days to football. On Tuesday, he completed 50 years as a football coach and has become one of the most famous football faces from the city. Since 1970, Rufus putting youngsters through the drills at 5:30am at Parade ground in Fort Kochi has been a familiar sight for those of the neighbourhood.
He has been doing this free of cost and his reputation has been steadily growing after grooming the likes of Hamilton Bobby, Xavier Pius, Sebastian Netto, Firoz Shareef and George Varghese. Kerala Football Association secretary Anil Kumar is also one of his students. Big celebrations were planned by some of his former disciples but that has been shelved due to the lockdown. However, Rufus is not concerned about that and his bigger worry is that he has not been able to train his 40 wards for some time.
“This is the longest I’ve been away from the ground and training in the last 50 years. The lockdown has been such an unprecedented situation. But I will return as soon as the government says that we can resume training. I belong there,” said Rufus. Previously, the veteran has also given training in hockey. He was the captain of the Travancore Cochin and Tamil hockey teams.
But after turning to coaching, he has focused on football. Even for coaches, there is usually a time to retire but Rufus’ longevity is testimony to his unparalleled love for the game. “If I had married and had kids, maybe I wouldn’t have been able to train as many kids as I did. I guess this is what was written for me and I’m very happy with my life. Many boys managed to get a good life through football and that is very satisfying,” said Rufus. Currently, he is spending the lockdown with his brother’s family at their residence.