‘Government ruining basic structure of football’
UNSUNG HEROES OF JK FOOTBALL
He was permanent member of J&K team during 70’s and represented the team in seven Santosh Trophy events. While most of the boys from his community preferred Hockey over other games he was rare one to take football as a profession. Surjeet Singh in a interview with GK sports correspondent Abid Khan talks about his landmarks and present scenario of football in the state.
Q: When and how you got attracted towards football?
I remember I got attracted towards the football in 1955 when outside university teams had come to the Valley to play in an event hosted by our state. I saw all the matches and got attracted which was not usually associated with Sikh boys. Shortly after that I formed a club by the name of Khalsa Sports Cub where I motivated my colleagues and friends to join. The Club was operational for two years and after that my all teammates/club mates left to join hockey.
But I stayed with my first love that was football. Soon I joined Muhammedan Sports Hazuri Bagh and played for them till 1980.
Q: What were the major achievements in your career?
I represented state in Santosh trophy seven times at Cuttack, Nowgam, Bangalore, Punjab, Goa and Kerala. Twice I was appointed skipper of the team and that was proudest movement of my career. Captaining state team is a huge honour and I was lucky to get captain’s arm band during the time when state had several talented and well known stars.
I played in Durand Cup 12 to 13 times. Though we had number of highly talented players during those days but most of them never took game seriously while I was serious and committed. The reason for my playing in so many Santosh Trophy and Durand Cup and other events was that I was committed towards my game.
Q: Any special moment in your career which you want to share?
There are too many but I will share couple of them. Once on a national trip we had former DIG as our team manager. We used to play pranks in Kashmiri thinking he doesn’t know Kashmiri. When we were supposed to play India-B team next he called all the players in his room for team meeting. We were shocked to see him addressing to us and discussing the strategy in Kashmiri. He talked fluent Kashmiri. We couldn’t see into his eyes and apologized. He forgave us and told us to focus on the next day’s crucial game.
Next day we gave everything and restricted India-B team to 0-1 margin. It was surprising result for football pundits of the Country as we were expected to lose by a big margin.
Another incident happened when we played against United Bengal. When J&K team had to play against United Bengal people here used to say we should carry a big bag to accommodate number of goals which we would concede.
But with the help of God we lost only by 2-1 margin that too due to a last minute goal. Our manger was so happy with our performance that he increased daily allowances of each player from Rs 10 to Rs 25 per day. It was big boost for us. For our team Muhammad Ismail Chapri was the scorer.
Q: What are the reasons J&K team is not able to perform better at national level?
There are several reasons. Past teams used to be close knit units and we used to listen and suggest each other while it doesn’t exist in present teams. There was never dearth of talent in our State. But we always lacked coaches and players never had luxury of a high quality coach to fine tune their techniques. Today we have coaches but players lack commitment and never follow their commands and instructions strictly. In our time we were yearning for good coaches while today they have coaches but players don’t listen to them.
Q: What about talent?
Our state has got too much of talent especially in football. It is poor man’s game and every person here is attached with it in one way or the other. It has got huge following and we have produced several great players who have brought laurels for the State. In past we produced players like Muhammad Yousuf Dar, Shafi Nari, Abdul Majeed Kakroo while currently our two players Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Ishfaq Ahmad are at top of the game, playing for country and big clubs. That is the testimony of how much talent and potential we have got here. Yes as a team we never perform well but individually each of international stars has shone at world stage.
Q: How can football progress in J&K?
What can we suggest when the government is ruing basic structure of the game. On one side they claim about importance of the sports in their agenda while on the other they have destroyed basic structure of the game. Playing fields have been turned into parks and gardens. How can we think of progress?
In our time there were playing fields in every nook and corner the state and we used to play wherever we liked. Government instead of improving infrastructure has destroyed it.
Government isn’t pumping enough money for the development of the game. Football and other small games are given same amount of annual grant which is too little for game like football. Football also lacks corporate support which I think is must for any game.
J&K Football Association is doing a good job and the initiatives taken recently through which they organized junior events should continue. We need to make our roots strong and the junior event and forming of academies are step in that direction. If they continue to work like this shortly we will see our football regaining lost glory.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 10 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 10 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 11 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
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