HAVING consulted the College of Consultors, His Grace Most Reverend…
AS a young priest fresh from the seminary cold bench, Fr William Van Gastel found little time to learn the foreign language properly when he was posted to Sabah (North Borneo then).
What he found himself doing, he wasted no time in doing something more for the schools he oversaw and supervised.
He introduced social and sports. He made the students realize that just academics was not good enough, but that talents could be used in more ways, and should affect life itself.
After the amalgamation and the introduction of co-education in 1969, Fr Gastel invited me to oversee the teaching of Physical Education at St Michael’s Secondary School.
He was a keen footballer himself, and soon became personally involved in the promotion of sports in Penampang district. To further boost its promotion, Fr Gastel and I represented the West Coast School Sports Council (WCSSC) as committee members.
As a further enhancement on the standard of sporting activities in Penampang District, the Moyog School Sports Council (MSSC) was formed with Fr Gastel elected as chairman, and I as secretary during the inaugural meeting of MSSC.
During his tenure in MSSC, Fr Gastel was instrumental in motivating many local athletes who became outstanding athletes at Sabah State level such as George Soluku and Gabriel Molujil in the throwing events. On the National level, Marcellenos Bungkilan became champion for two consecutive years in the under 16 category.
In football, the school had also produced many good footballers with coaching undertaken by other bodies. St Michael’s soon became one of the strongest teams in the district.
The success of the many athletes was mainly due to the initiative of Fr Gastel who managed to equip the school with new sports equipment to supplement the existing ones.
Besides the usual sports equipment, gymnastic equipment such as Parallel Bar, Vaulting Box and four sets of exercise mattresses were also acquired. These new additions of sports equipment were fully utilized and enabled me to introduce vaulting and agilities activities, leading to gymnastics teaching and training for the first time in Penampang.
Speaking as one among many teachers at St Michael’s Secondary School, Fr Gastel has indeed been my mentor. Besides, I was honoured and blessed to have him celebrate my Wedding Mass which took place on 13 March 1971. – Pius Jokinol