FLORIS “FLORRIE” Kelshall is pleased with what she has accomplished in the sport of hockey, as she awaits her 100th birthday on January 3 2016.
Kelshall, the former national hockey player and administrator, was specially recognised at last Friday’s First Citizens Sports Foundation Sports Awards at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s.
And the well-spoken Kelshall admitted that she felt lovely to be recognised by hosts Wendell Constantine and Danielle Jones at the annual award ceremony.
The Humming Bird Medal Silver recipient (1983) noted on Friday night, “I met a lot of old friends that I haven’t seen for years. It’s lovely to have met them.”
Kelshall, who was inducted into the then West Indian Tobacco (WITCO) - now First Citizens Sports Foundation - Sports Hall of Fame in June 1985, also commented on the state of local hockey. “I don’t think we can compare now as it used to be, because, before we played, everybody had known everybody in hockey. Now I hardly hear any news about hockey.”
She continued, “I enjoyed my hockey days. I travelled with the hockey team and I went and played in different countries. I have thousands of friends in hockey.
The Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board (TTHB) has embarked on a drive to promote the sport at the school level. And Kelshall pointed out, “hockey is a very good sport because (players are able) to share the game. You don’t have to keep it to yourself. You share it with 11 other people on the team.”
She was delighted to point out that, “in my time, we went (to the United States) twice to play and we played in the leagues here.”
Reflecting on how the sporting arena was in her days, Kelshall remarked, “everyone showed an interest in sports and on Saturdays, we’d (be) playing hockey. On Monday mornings people would stop you and say “you missed that goal” or “you got a very good goal”. People were very interested in sports.”
She admitted, “I was born in Barbados, then I went to school in England (at the Ursuline Convent at age 13 and then to the Manchester University to study medicine, specifically optics) and I came back (to the Caribbean) but, instead of going to Barbados, I came to Trinidad (in 1939).”
She continued, “and I played with Ventures Hockey Club, which is part of my life. Then I got married (but) he (Kenneth) didn’t interfere with my hockey at all. I still have a lot of friends from hockey. I made friends, apart from my team.”
Kelshall was in her glee when she spoke about the supporters at the Police Barracks in St James, who will constantly chant “run Florrie, run Florrie, run”. While she was adamant that “I enjoyed my hockey days,” she also noted, “I played badminton at nights and I enjoyed that. And I played tennis at St James Tennis Club and I enjoyed that. I got married and had children (three girls), but the children didn’t interfere with my sport.”
Asked how she possessed the energies to play a variety of sport, she replied, “I was full of energy and I had a very considerate husband. All he said was “don’t involve me in anything, do what you like but don’t involve me”. None of her daughters - Kay, Joy and Kim, played sport, but Kelshall also represented Trinidad and Tobago in the sport of bridge, after she ended her active playing career. As far as her profession was concerned, she was a qualified optician but she also distinguished herself in sporting administration, having been made an honorary life member of the now-defunct TT Women’s Hockey Administration (she was the president from 1955-1962), the first female honorary life member of the TTHB and an honorary life member of Ventures (she was a member since 1940).
She ended, “my family life has been good. I now live with my two daughters in Cascade, one daughter lives in Venezuela.”