Benjamin Vere La’Brooy, sad to say, passed away into the Lord’s Realm on 16th.October 2020 and was cremated at the Mt. Lavinia Crematorium two days later. It was most disappoiinting that there was hardly a soul to farewell Benji due to the restrictions of the pandemic.
Benji, as he was popularly known, enjoyed a most illustrious and colourful sports career whilst serving in the Sri Lanka Navy for 22 long years. His work, which he thoroughly revelled in, was in the sports and physical fitness sectors involving organising, management, training and the implementation of sports programmes. Prior to retirement he was a senior Physical Training Instructor and served in many ships and shore establishments around the island..
His recruitment to the Navy was at a time when the armed services were bristling with sportsmen and colourful personalities of various skills..The Navy, at this moment in time, was the showpiece of the nation and rightly so Benji was one of the jewels in its crown. His prowess at Hockey and Cricket earned him early recognition and just before joining the Navy, Benjamin (still in his teens) was invited to play for the Burgher Recreation Club where he performed with the nonchalance of a veteran. The marks of a good sportsman are attention to detail, modesty, unselfishness, physical fitness and discipline. Benji possessed all these traits in abundance which never failed to register with the hierarchy wherever and whenever he played. How could one forget Benji ,still a youngster performing with the likes of Ernie Kelaart, Russel. Heyn, Ivan de Kretser, Rozairo, Wijekoon, Freddie White, the Aldons brothers, Rusty Bartels, Darley Ingleton. to name just a few of the ‘greats’ of that era. He was soon in the ranks of the ‘top notchers’ and was performing with great credit. He was drafted to the National Pool in the 60’s and was always on standby duty with the cricket and hockey pools.
During the Joint Exercises Trincomalee (Commonwealth) naval exercises in Trincomalee ( 1960 – 61) young Benjamin La’Brooy was in his element. He was called upon to assist in arranging, managing and executing a varied sports programme catering to around 40 warships of the commonwealth. The programme lasted a fortnight and not only was Benji helping with the arrangements but he also had to make sure that the home team was victorious in many of the matches. And so it transpired!
It’s always so nice to see a sportsman passing off his knowledge to the younger generation and in this respect Benji was a ready help and inspiration to those who had need of his services.
Benji coached the Old Antonians SC Wattala for a number of years bringing the team up to a high standard at competition level.
It is fitting that someone remembers to pen a few words in praise of such a gallant doyen of the sports arena who made many sacrifices to keep alive its glory..
Benji, you have earned yourself a niche in the memories of all those who were near and dear to you and to all those sports people you have played with and against.
For this you are rightly remembered.
May you be safe and comfortable in God’s keeping.