‘BEFORE GOING TO GERMANY ON JULY 31, 1975, I ASKED SHEIKH KAMAL – WHAT DO YOU NEED? IN REPLY, HE REQUESTED THAT I BRING ADIDAS BOOTS FOR HIS PLAYERS AT ABAHANI’
In recent times, I was lucky enough to meet one of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s used-to-be neighbours, Babu. An ardent sports faithful, Babu loves to talk about cricket and football. Once, not so long ago, he randomly went down memory lane and recollected a common feature of the Bangabandhu household.
While walking around Bangabandhu’s historic yet tragic house at Dhanmondi Road No 32, Babu and his family often heard the sound of Sitar coming from the inside. It took them some days to confirm that it was Sheikh Kamal who was playing the musical instrument.
It hardly came as a surprise to them as they already knew about Sheikh Kamal’s many talents. After all, he was involved in a number of cultural activities and made an invaluable contribution during the Liberation War in 1971. And having found out about his new trait, their respect for Sheikh Kamal grew even more. But first and foremost, they recognised Sheikh Kamal as a man with an immense amount of love and passion for sports.
Sheikh Kamal was the eldest son of Bangabandhu and he was only 26 when he was assassinated along with the rest of his family members on August 15, 1975. In the span of 26 years, the majority would get out of their academic life and start to know the realities of life. That he excelled in both education and sports at the relatively young age of 26 is one of Sheikh Kamal’s finest attributes.
Apart from playing cricket and basketball in the first division, Sheikh Kamal was always a step ahead than his peers. He always thought of developing the country’s sports sector and was always acknowledged as a shrewd and talented sports organiser. He was also responsible for establishing Abahani Limited, one of the country’s premier sports institutions, in 1972.
He only got three years to guide the traditional Sky Blues but it was more than enough. During those three years, he laid a solid platform at the Dhanmondi-based club and one only has to look at Abahani’s trophy cabinet in order to gauge Sheikh Kamal’s efforts. Following the Liberation War, Abahani claimed 11 top-flight football titles, including winning a hattrick of championships twice. Besides football, the club also have cricket, hockey and many other sports in their roster. Even today, Abahani are one of the country’s most successful and illustrious sporting establishments.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Sheikh Kamal’s loss has been an irreparable one. But it is not only Sheikh Kamal who loved sports among the Bangabandhu clan. Nicknamed the “Golden Girl of East Pakistan”, Sultana Ahmed Khuki, wife of Sheikh Kamal, was one of the most outstanding athletes at that time. Khuki held national records in long jump and 100-metres and has since been an iconic and inspiring sports figure to the future women athletes of the country.
Bangabandhu’s second son and Sheikh Kamal’s immediate younger brother, Sheikh Jamal, was also believed to have passion for sports. Abahani will always live in the memories of the sports fans in this country but Sheikh Jamal are truly and surely the most dominant name in the domestic football arena right now. It has been a little over five years since Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club were founded. Within this time, Sheikh Jamal have earned a lot of praises for their performances not only in Bangladesh but in several Asian countries.
The conspirators might have been able to erase the lives of Sheikh Kamal, Khuki and Sheikh Jamal but their legacy lived on. In order to comprehend Sheikh Kamal’s love for sports, one has to listen to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“Before going to Germany on July 31, 1975, I asked Sheikh Kamal, ‘what do you need’. In reply, he requested that I bring Adidas boots for his players at Abahani,” said an emotion-charged Hasina during the occasion of Sheikh Kamal’s 66th birth anniversary on August 5 this year. Who would have thought Sheikh Kamal would never get to see the football boots?
AUGUST 15, 2015