Jas Missan – the pioneer of Asian style hockey in England passes away

by Dil Bahra
1st July 2019

Jaswindar (Jas) Singh Missan, the former Kenyan international, died yesterday morning (Sunday) following a stroke at his home in Chatham, Kent, England. He was aged 78.

Jas was born on 30 January 1941 in Mombasa, Kenya. He was educated at Alidina Visram High School and Mombasa Technical High School.   He represented his schools in hockey and athletics and played for Sikh Union Mombasa and the Coast Team. He was a top class sprinter at Coast, with Kenya's 1962 Commonwealth Games champion Seraphino Antao as his training partner. He was clearly a talented sportsman.

Jas was selected to play for Kenya against England on 20 September 1958 in Nairobi, at the age of 17.  The following year he captained the Combined University Team to play against the Indian team on their tour of East Africa. He played for Kenya against India in a test match in Mombasa. He played for Kenya Governor's X1 against the Pakistan team on their tour of Kenya in 1960.

In September 1961 Jas went to the UK for further studies. He decided to settle in England after graduating which meant that his international career was cut short, but he brought all the international hockey skills he had learned in Kenya with him to England, including the Asian style of play he developed from playing against both India and Pakistan.

He represented London Universities from 1961 to 1965 and was awarded his University Colours in 1962.

He played in the British Universities Sports Federation tournaments in 1962, 1963 and 1964 and represented British Universities against European Universities.

He played for Surrey County from 1962 to 1970 and was a member of the Surrey team that won the County Championship in 1963. He was awarded his Surrey Colours in 1962 - 63 season.

He was a member of the Indian Students tour of Holland in September 1962. He played and captained London Indians Hockey Club in the 1960s and 1970s.

Jas joined Spencer Hockey Club, one of London's leading Clubs at the time, in 1965. He captained Spencer from 1970 to 1975 and it was under his captaincy that Spencer won the London League in the 1973 - 74 season for the first time in the Club's history.

He was selected to represent London X1 against India at Surbiton in June 1966 and again in 1967.

Jas was a one Club man, and he was elected as the President of Spencer Hockey Club from 1999 to 2003 and remained Vice-President of the Club for the rest of his life.

Pat Rowley BEM, one of the most senior hockey writers in the world, on hearing of Jaswindar's death, said "Jas was a lovely man and one of the most talented players I have seen. A brilliant midfield player with an inherent tactical understanding. He was always one of my first choices when I selected teams to represent London against the likes of India, Pakistan and Great Britain. I chose him to mastermind my London teams against India in 1966 and 1967.  He would have definitely played for Great Britain if he had not represented Kenya beforehand. "

Bhupinder (Pindhi) Singh Plaha, who played for Spencer first team for over ten years recalled  how he first met Jas on a hockey pitch. "I was playing for Southern Railways in a Surrey County semi-final eliminator in 1972 against Spencer, led by Jas. After the match, which we lost, Jas had a long chat with me and invited me to join Spencer. I did not join then but the following year Southern played Spencer again in the semi final. By this time I had got to know Jas quite well, having played regularly under his captain-ship for the London Indians. I took Jas's advice and joined Spencer in 1974. The next 10 years, with Jas at the helm, were the golden years of Spencer when we played an exciting blend of Asian / English hockey and became one of the top three sides in the London league. He was a thorough gentleman whose help and guidance I will always cherish."

Ravinder Singh Laly, a former Kenya international said " Jas was a charming person, a great person both on and off the pitch. He was a good friend, colleague, an inspiration to all of us. Our thoughts are with the family in this difficult time."

Tarlok Singh Mandair , former Treasurer of English Hockey Association and Manager of London Indians paid this tribute "Jas came from Mombasa in September 1961 and played hockey for the University of London which was in The Telegraph Pennant as in those days there were no leagues but the fixtures were traditional. Has played centre half and brought fresh ideas to the game making it interesting to watch and very competitive. During the second year in the University Bal Kakaria joined Jas and Errol Hartley to make the London University a successful team for two years . Jas joined Spencer Hockey Club which complemented his style of hockey and they were the leaders for a few years. Jas during those years was the best centre forward in England but not eligible to play for England as he had played for Kenya. Jas played for a lot of invitation teams and for London Indians . He was a good friend, son, husband and father to Ajay and Gita. We will miss him but his memories will always be treasured."

Tarlochan (Tochi ) Singh Panesar, the former President and Chairman of Spencer Hockey Club paid this tribute  "Jas Missan was one of Spencer Hockey Club's finest players and a passionate club member. He was an inspiration player and captained the Club during our finest hour in 1974 when we won the London League in 1974. He remained connected with the club and was always very generous in supporting us. He will be sadly missed by Spencer."

Bal Kakaria, a team mate at London University and Spencer, paid this tribute "The first time I met Jas was in 1962 when I went for try-outs for London University Field Hockey Team at Motspur Park. I had just arrived from New Delhi in June after having played for Delhi State in the National Hockey Championships in April. Jas and I made an instant connection as fellow Punjabi speaking players both having played very competitive hockey on our respective countries. He became my biggest promoter to make sure I made the team. The most fond memories, and there are numerous, is when we travelled (for London University, London Indians, Students Union) to play other teams all over Europe including behind the Iron Curtain countries in 1964. In Czechoslovakia and Poland children would follow him all over never having seen a Sikh with a turban. Jas would handout sweets to them !! Jas was very passionate about the game but he had an outstanding quality of being a "people-person". Against belligerent opposition he never backed down. He had a tremendous sense of humour and seemed to be always upbeat no matter what. I was lucky enough to have played together with him for London University and subsequently Spencer between 1962 and 1966. We, along with others, were the founders of the London University Purples Club after we graduated that became our legacy to the University. We were fortunate enough to organize, after 50 years, a Purples Reunion in September 2015 at the London International Student House where we had spent a lot of time in our student days. That is the last time I had the pleasure of meeting Jas and reminiscing. I will miss Jas dearly. May he rest in peace."

Errol Hartley, a long-time friend since College days, on hearing the news paid this tribute " I met Jas in September 1961 when we both enrolled in The West Ham College of Technology  to study Electrical Engineering and were both in the same class. We  went together  to the London University Hockey trials at Motspur Park that year and both made the team. We graduated together in 1965  not only with degrees but also having spent four great years as part of some very good London University Hockey teams. I recall tours to Spain, Dublin, Belgium, Holland, France and Germany with Jas where something or the other always seemed to be happening. I still vividly remember Jas holding up traffic on The Boulevard Saint Michel in Paris as he crossed against the directions of the traffic Gendarme telling him in loud terms that he did not speak French so he did not understand what the Gendarme was telling him. A good thing it was in France! We spent part of one summer in Copenhagen washing dishes in a Student Hotel  -- too many stories to tell about that. I went to Canada in 1968 but never lost touch and managed to meet up with Jas every four or five years. In fact we both worked for the same Company but not at the same time. I last saw Jas seven weeks ago when I was in England and we had dinner at the home of another old friend of mine, Tarlok Mandair. He looked quite well and in good spirits so it came as a great shock when I heard of his passing. He was a wonderful person with a very big heart and I for one will miss him but will always treasure the memories he left behind."

Caji DeSouza, another dear friend who was involved in the University Hockey team and at West Ham college, paid this tribute "I first saw Jas play hockey in Nairobi, Kenya when Jas played his first International match in 1958 as a 17 year old, when Kenya played England. This subsequently disqualified him from representing England in the 1960s, having previously represented another country. He was amongst one of the best in England in those years. He was very well regarded as hockey player and more importantly as a kind gentleman. I remember Bill Murray ( a strong supporter of the university Hockey club ) who was involved in London University Senate House Administration selecting Jas and a dancing partner to shelter the Queen Mother at a Senate Ball. Jas in those days was in that handsome white turban. Jas was a key organiser of that wonderful 2015 Hockey Club reunion which had a strong representation of players from the 1960s teams, with our wives, partners and friends. We will all miss him dearly. May he rest in peace."

Mike Corby, the former President of English Hockey Association, who captained both Great Britain and England in the 1960s and played in two Olympic Games (1964 & 1972), paid this tribute "I knew and played both against and with Jaswindar for many a year. He was always a good opponent and great to play with in the same team. Whether, you were with or against him he was always a competitive vociferous and talented friend. His wild ferocious look belied a charming, intelligent and interesting side to his personality. I and many others were always wary, when he looked at you with his piercing eyes, lifted stick and advanced towards you with the ball well under control. He was a truly talented hockey player and sportsman who I and many will sadly miss. Whenever, we met after our playing days, he would be the first to welcome me and buy me a glass of something. A great player, friend and companion."

Mangal Singh Chudha, a family friend from childhood days in Mombasa, paid this tribute on hearing of Jaswindar's passing " I had known Jaswindar (Dhulli) for a very long time as our families were very close. As a teacher I had also taught two of his younger siblings. However, as Sports Secretary and later Secretary and President of Sikh Union Mombasa I had a close relationship with him. His sporting prowess was evident from his school days. He not only was a very fine hockey player he also proved himself in cricket and other sports. His quick reflexes, skill, speed and physical strength were evident on the sports field. He was a key player in our hockey team which dominated coast hockey for many years. He was equally good academically and qualified as an engineer. He was a very friendly person who always had a smile on his face."

Perminder (Pindi) Singh Tamana, who played hockey with Jaswindar at School, Sikh Union Mombasa and Coast X1 in Kenya paid this tribute " Jaswindar Missan was an outstanding sportsman by any standards. He came from a sporting family. His father, Mangal Singh was President of Sikh Union, Mombasa on many occasions and was a very close friend of the famous Mr. Mahan Singh of Kenya hockey. His two brothers, Saribjit and Harjit, like him, vere very talented sportsmen. He was probably the only Sikh boy during his time who excelled in hockey, athletics, cricket and football. He was a complete all-rounder. He was a clever student and was a student in Technical High School, Mombasa before moving to Allidina Visram High School for his A Levels. I was his hockey and athletics captain in this school. These were the days when our school boasted of at least 5 players who played for Sikh Union and the Coast team. He was a known sprinter, but very few people will know that he was our schools walking race champion as well.  He was an all rounder in Cricket and a terrific fast bowler. He also played football in one of the top Football teams, alongside Albert Castana, the famous all rounder Goan sportsman from the coast. He was an honest, loving and a gentle human being. He always had that typical " Duli" smile on his face. I still remember the many happy years we spent together in our younger days in Mombasa. He will be sadly missed by his family and many of us who were part of his life at some stage."


Jagjit Singh Gill (1939 - 2019)

by Dil Bahra
15 May 2019

Sikhs in Hockey are very saddened to learn that Jagjit (Jity) Singh Gill, a well-known hockey personality, at Sikh Union Nairobi, Kenya passed away in Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, UK on 17 March 2019 following a stroke. He was aged 80.

Jagjit was born in Entebee, Uganda on 4 February 1939. He was educated at Kisumu Junior and Kisumu High School from 1947 to 1953. He went to Nairobi for further education and studied at Eastleigh Secondary School from 1953 to 1956.

He played hockey and cricket for the School teams.

He joined the famous Sikh Union Nairobi Club in 1953 and played both hockey and cricket for the Club.

He emigrated to the UK in April 1972.

He played and coached at Harrow Hockey Club in London for a number of years. He was Manager of Middlesex County Team on their tours to Europe.

He played hockey and cricket for British Gas teams.

He was a man possessing immense knowledge about Kenya hockey's Golden Years. His commitment to the sport took him all around the world to attend most of the international hockey tournaments, including Olympic Games and World Cups, starting with the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games.

Jity was a great supporter of Sikhs in Hockey and his invaluable contribution to the website will always be personally appreciated.

Jagjit leaves behind his wife, Joginder, son Mandeep (50), daughter-in-law Krishna and grand-daughters Avleen and Tara.