Norman Da Costa Celebrates 25 Years At The Toronto Star
Well known Toronto sports reporter and sportsman from Nairobi, was presented with a diamond pin by publisher of the paper on completing 25 years with The Star on October 21st.
Reproduced below is a photo and an article on Norman from the Toronto Star
Norman Da Costa
By Doug Ibbotson
Ask Norman Da Costa, "What’s your golf handicap?"
He’s got a one-word answer: "Myself."
The 61-year-old sports reporter is a modest man with a self-deprecating sense of humour, but he’s got some impressive athletic as well as journalistic credentials in his resume.
Maybe not necessarily in golf, which he admits he "plays a lot’’ for recreation these days, and has broken 100 just a few times.
Up until the last few years, he was a "very good" squash player, "but my knees just couldn’t take it any more. My knees would balloon up after every game, and I decided I just didn’t want the pain any more."
Those knees have taken a fair amount of punishment over the years, dating to the days when Da Costa was a top-level field hockey player in his native Kenya and played for the second-string team against India, Pakistan and Zambia.
He was an all-rounder at the elite level at cricket and played for the Railway Goan Institute in the local knockout competitions and later for the Goan Institute.
Da Costa, who also played soccer, played right half at hockey, but he freely admits that "track and field is my great love."
In fact, he and the Kenyan Olympic gold-medal-winning runner Kip Keino were "great buddies."
Growing up in Nairobi as the eldest (and the only male) of five children, Da Costa played all the sports and admits he had aspirations for a career as an athlete. But always, in the back of his mind, there was the idea of sports journalism.
He got his first break in the news business with the Sunday Post in Nairobi, where he spent a year covering everything and anything that involved chasing a ball.
His work at the Post earned him a move in 1965 to the Daily Nation, the country’s largest newspaper, owned by one of the world’s richest men, the Aga Khan.
Da Costa spent 11 years at the Nation, rising to sports editor in 1974. By 1976, the world was coming to Canada for the Montreal Olympics, and Da Costa and his young family came along. They landed in Toronto and set up house in Brampton, a city where they have lived ever since.
Disappointing at the time was the fact that his journalistic credentials did not carry the same weight here as they had in Kenya, so Da Costa spent six months working in public relations for the adidas sporting goods firm. He was hired by the late Horst Dassler, owner of the company, with whom Da Costa had struck a lasting friendship when he visited Kenya.
That job got him to the Olympic Games in Montreal, where he met the Toronto Sun’s sports editor of the day, George Gross, and took that opportunity to ask for a job.
"No openings,’’ Gross said at the time. But eventually Da Costa got a tryout - something of an insult to a journalist who had already earned his stripes - but it was not a chance to be wasted.
There followed a four-year stint at the Sun, during which Da Costa re-established his credentials as a talented writer knowledgeable about sports, with a special penchant for soccer and track and field coverage. He was the Sun’s main soccer columnist and covered the Blizzard.
Then he applied for jobs with The Star and the Globe and Mail. He landed employment with both, but Da Costa decided to join The Star in mid-1981.
While he has covered virtually ever sport since then for The Star, including the World Cup in the U.S. in 1994, the Olympics (Barcelona in 1992) and the Pan-American Games (Cuba in 1991), Da Costa recalls his most gruelling overseas tours of duty as the World Cup in France in 1998, the Euro 2000 in Belgium and Holland and, of course, the 2002 World Cup in Japan.
"The travel schedule in all these places was a killer. It was extremely tough.’’
The travel in Holland and Belgium was very difficult as well as it meant working 30 straight days. But, he says, "I was fortunate to be there as that was undoubtedly the finest soccer tournament ever played.’’
Japan, too, was a nightmare because of the language and travel.
"One thinks of it as an island but this place is massive. In some instances I had to take a bullet train and a flight to get to cities like Sapporo and Oita. But, all said and done, it was the World Cup and the first to be played in Asia.’’
Da Costa also covered the 1999 World Cup of cricket and later flew to Barbados to cover an important cricket Test match between Pakistan and the West Indies. The Ontario government honoured him for his cricket coverage in the Star.
Da Costa also recalls fondly the two exclusive stories he broke. First was the scandal involving Canadian soccer players in a tournament in Singapore where a couple of players were allegedly bribed to throw games.
The other one rocked the world. And that was his interview with Ben Johnson’s doctor Jamie Astaphan in 1989.
In a world exclusive, Astaphan admitted to Da Costa that Johnson did in fact take the drug stanozolol.
Astaphan was the first of Johnson’s handlers to acknowledge publicly that the world’s fastest man had used the banned drug that cost him his Olympic gold medal.
Previously, the doctor had denied any knowledge that Johnson took the muscle-building steroid.
Two years ago Da Costa moved to copy editing in the sports department after 23 years of reporting.
"I can now spend more time at home instead of being on the road three months in a year and enjoy my family and two grandchildren - Natasha and Matthew,’’ he said.
P.S.: Norman Da Costa was presented with a diamond pin by publisher David Goldbloom on completing 25 years with The Star on October 21st.
The Splendour Of Goan Houses
ETW Staff – Goa
Besides sun and sand, Goa boasts of having the most elegant and prominent houses, many of them built in the 18th and the 19th century. The Goans have used locally available leaterite and seasoned wood, which has helped them build spacious houses with arched windows and intricate railings. In most of the houses they have a 'balcao', which is like an open space in front, where visitors were made to seat and converse.
(Click on thumbnails for larger view)
Goa-based tour operator Rene Mendes, says, "Besides enjoying the Goan atmosphere, a visit to the colonial Goan architecture house would add to the splendour of the visit."
Goan houses also normally contain a large reception hall, bedrooms, a large kitchen and a well-ventilated storeroom. In certain families till today, earthenware pots are used for cooking and the critics say that it gives better flavour to the Goan dishes. Garden potted plants surround many of the prominent Goan mansions. These houses are normally white-washed after the monsoon and ready for the on-coming festival season.