March 26, 1982 - October 13, 2003

Ronnie: Smiles and Tears

by Justin Dudley

First off, I would like to say how honored I am to be the first recipient of the Ronale Sanjay Naidu Scholarship. I would like to thank Raj, and Ron Hunt, and the other members of the foundation. When Dave told me that I had been selected I was speechless. I means a lot to me. I would also like to say that I am very honored to be speaking on behalf of the players and the program about Ronnie. Not enough good things can be said about Ronnie. He had a fantastic work rate day in day out and his warm personality and big smile could brighten up any room. He was a wonderful and genuine guy. As I was thinking about words to describe Ronnie, two words came to mind: Smiles and Tears. Smiles because of his enormously large smile that he always carried on his face, and smiles for all the good times we shared. And tears for all the tears that have been shed in the past year in and a half. I want to try to focus on the smiles and share some memories.

It must have been the first or second day of training camp our rookie year and we were doing a warm up run around some trees. Ronnie proceeded to get caught on one of the trees and put a huge rip in the sleeve of his training shirt. All the players had a good laugh at this because we are only issued one training shirt a year, and his already had a huge rip in it. However, the next day rolled around and sure enough he had a new sleeve sowed onto his shirt by his mother, except it was a slightly different gray. This didn?t matter though because by 5 minutes in the warm up, his entire shirt was soaked in sweat and it was about 2 shades of gray darker than the rest of our shirts. Man did that guy sweat. We shared a seat in the vans, a bed in the hotels. Imagine driving in California in a 15-passenger van, loaded with the lads and no air conditioning, or in the hotels during and after an event like the rendezvous.

Ronnie was generally a very passive and mild tempered man, but he could snap. I remember on a van ride back from Seattle University in the vans. Joe Marrello, who has since graduated from the program, was sitting in the back and Ronnie was two rows up. We had our post game cookies in some aluminum tins. Joe leaned forward and smacked Ronnie over the head with a tin top. Ronnie snapped and came up over the seats at Joe and a large van fight ensued. Ronnie was one of the few lads who never lost a van fight. He is the only guy that I ever tapped out to.

When the time came to let loose, he certainly knew how. Two nights stand out in my memories. The first one was at Mavericks in Burnaby at a beach party night with $1 highballs. The team was there sitting around a table, and two waitresses came over, each carrying two trays completely full of high balls. Ronnie just sat there with his big smile and saying just don't worry about it. His famous line.

The other night, which really stands out was our birthday at the Plaza after the Athletic Banquet two years ago. Ronnie and I shared the same birthday, March 26, and so it will forever be a bittersweet day for the rest of my life. A birthday won't pass without remembering that night at the Plaza. Because it was our birthday, we spent much of the night side by side at the bar doing ?birthday? shots and birthday drinks. It was probably one of the best birthdays I have ever had.

Along the lines of our birthday, I will always remember the 21st birthday party thrown at the hall rented out by his parent?s downtown. Ronnie invited us down, not really explaining the full extent of the party to us. Six or seven of us showed up, in jeans and t-shirts or golf shirts and walk in to a party filled with hundreds of Fijian and other brown people dressed in formal suit and tie and traditional wear. Needless to say, that the six white underdressed boys stood out like a sore thumb. Ronnie was the first to make us feel comfortable by inviting us upfront for pictures and hanging out. It wasn?t just Ronnie, it was the entire family; we all took turns dancing with his mom, and cousins and other members of the family. He truly has a wonderful family. He had to, only a great family could raise such a great and wonderful son.

My last evening with Ronnie was spent here in this pub (at SFU). The two of us came here for dinner after training. We talked about everything, from school to soccer to girls and everything in between. I never thought it would be the last time I got to hang out with him.

Two days after Ronnie?s funeral, we played in the regional final game. Our team played with more emotion than any other team I have ever seen. I remember scoring the game-winning goal, and words cannot describe all the emotions that flowed through my body simultaneously. I remember on the ensuing kickoff, I couldn?t even see because I had tears filling my eyes and streaming down my face.

He is greatly missed by myself, the program and everyone whose lives he touched. We lost a teammate and a great friend, but our pain cannot even compare to that which is felt by loosing a son or a brother. I'm so sorry.

On behalf of the program, I would like to present the family with the #5 jersey that Ronnie wore during his time playing here at SFU.

Speech was given on April 3rd, 2005 at SFU Men's Soccer Senior's night. It is a night sponsored by the SFU Soccer program in which family and friends gather to recap the season and pay tribute to the seniors who have fulfilled their eligibility for the program. Ronale was an honorary senior this year as this would have been his senior season with SFU Men's Soccer and would have fulfilled his eligibility for the program.

A charity foundation has been established in honour of Ronale. Click on FOUNDATION for details on memorials and scholarships dedicated to Ronale Sanjay Naidu. The Ronale Sanjay Naidu Foundation welcomes your DONATIONDONATION
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