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
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
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
"The travel schedule in all these places was a killer. It was
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
"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
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