‘Give players job security for upliftment of football’
UNSUNG HEROES OF JK FOOTBALL
He was a popular goalkeeper of yesteryears. Despite one year ban imposed on him in his early years of play, he came out with flying colours. Ghulam Jeelani, in an interview with GK sports correspondent Abid Khan, talks about his landmarks, achievements and standard of goalkeeping
Q: Tell us how you started playing football?
Like most of the players of my age, I too got attracted towards the game seeing local teams practising in a nearby field. Hamdaniya Sports players used to practice in MP Higher Secondary School ground and I along with other local children used to watch them keenly. Once I got an opportunity to play. I played as attacker but it did not work out. After deep thought I chose goalkeeping as my position and my height also helped. In 1968 I played for Hamdaniya Sports. In 1969 I joined Food and Supplies (F&S) team. But as the season was about to start I was banned by Olympic Association.
Q: Why were you banned?
I refused to sign F&S job contract. Director F&S was head of Olympic Association that time and he banned me for the entire season.
Q: F&S was known team of that time. Why you refused to join?
I did not refuse to play but I refused to sign contract. They were forcing me to join on contract instead of permanent basis. That is why I refused as there were too many clubs who were offering me permanent job.
Q: What happened later?
In 1970, I joined Power Development Corporation and at same time played for Nowhatta Football Club in B-Division league. We defeated F&S-XI in Barmullah and other teams during the season. On the basis of that performance we were promoted to A-Division league. In 1971, I joined popular club of that era Muhammadan Sports (KMD). I played for the club upto 1973 and during this period current J&K Football Association resident secretary Professor Bashir Shah remained my skipper for 13 years. I also played with players like Abdul Majeed Reshi and Yousuf Baba.
Q: Major achievements in your career?
There were several. From Santosh trophy to Rovers Cup I played in all the events. By virtue of being league winners our team Muhammadan Sports was selected for Rovers Cup in 1973 which was being held in Mumbai. We won first match and in second match were against a known club of Goa, Dempo Sports. We played well and lost only through a self goal.
I represented my club in six Durand cup campaigns by virtue of being league runner-ups.
I also played for the State team in three Santosh Trophy events held in Tamilnadu, Kolkatta and New Delhi. In 1979 campaign we won one match and lost one. In our first group clash we were put against Bengal-XI that we lost that 3-0. In next match we defeated Ponidicherry 3-0. Earlier, Bengal had defeated Pondicherry by a lone goal thus they qualified for the second round. The main factor for our defeat against Bengal was flood light effect. The match was played under lights and it was all together new experience for us.
I also represented state in Civil Service team. We were able to qualify for semifinal but unfortunately due to lack of match practice we lost. During that time communal riots broke out in Bihar and for security reasons we were kept in Central Jail for 15 days and we were not able to practice.
Q: Any special moment in your career which you want to share?
We were playing against Bravo Army in semi-final of the Sheri-Kashmir Gold Cup. Bravo Army had won the championship on previous two consecutive occasion and were on way to make a hat trick. But we thwarted their plan by winning the match 2-1. We scored first goal in first half but they scored equaliser immediately. In last minute of the game Abdul Qayoom fired corner that went straight into goal thus giving us 2-1 win.
The second match which I want to share was against Indian Air force. It was quarterfinal of Sadiq Memorial tourney. We lost match it 1-0.
Another moment which I remember is final of knockout tournament against Army-XI. We won it 3-0.
Apart from these three matches I remember the two fractures which I suffered due to tackle by former Indian team captain Abdul Majeed Kakroo.
In 1985, the match between SRTC and our club at Bakshi Stadium, Kakroo came to score and to stop him I dived and pushed the ball away. He missed ball and kicked direct on my nose. My nose got fractured and I was out of action for months.
In 1987 it was again SRTC and our club playing and it was again Kakroo whom I went to tackle. He was heading towards goal for scoring I dived forward and pushed the ball with my right hand and he kicked on my left hand. I suffered a hand fracture.
These were two serious injuries that I got and on both occasion co-incidentally player was Kakroo.
Q: Why isn’t J&K football team able to perform better at national level?
It is wrong to say that our teams never performed well at national level. There are up and downs. On the basis of support, facility and infrastructure level, whatever we have achieved is satisfactory.
The main culprit for our below par performance in most of the events is weather. The national events are being held during off-season when weather conditions here in Valley remain un-suitable for the football. As our players remains out of practice they are not able to perform better.
Q: Football is considered number one game in the State. Do you think there has been enough support from government for its upliftment?
In comparison to our era football today has got no support from government or any other sector. Ours was golden period of the game and we were fortunate to have Nazir Ahmad Khan as J&K Football Association President as well as Director Youth Services and Sports. Being in both government sports arena and JKFA, he helped the game to develop as much as he could. It was during his time departmental football teams were made active.
But today situation is totally different in addition to snatching grounds from sports fraternity and turning them into parks and gardens the government is not providing sufficient funds for its functioning.
They are providing same amounts of funds to minor games as well as major game like football. How can it help?
Q: What about the talent?
There was never shortage of talent in our state. Our former and current international players are proof. Apart from International arena, lot of our players have made it big at national level playing for reputed clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.
But what our players lack are facilities and support from both the government and corporate sector.
Q: In your opinion what should be done to help football regain its lost glory?
I consider 80’s as the golden period of the football in our Valley. If we want to regain its lost glory then players should be given job security and facilities.
Instead of football, money is being poured into cricket which has got no foothold in J&K in comparison with football. Even J&K Cricket Association President Dr Farooq Abdullah during a football function acknowledged that there is no comparison of popularity between cricket and football in the Valley.
But still there is no support to football as compared to cricket.
Q: You were a famous goalkeeper of yesteryears. Tell us about standards of goalkeeping of your era andnow?
There is no comparison. During my time there were four famous goalkeepers in the Valley. Ghulam Hussain, Gulzar Ahmad, Bashir Ahmad and me. We had competition in-between and each among us always wanted to do better. We were also sharing tips between each other. The competition level and sharing of knowledge always helped our game which improved over all standard of goalkeeping.
But today I don’t see that level of competition in goalkeeping. Among current lot of goalkeepers I am impressed with the skills of Police-XI keeper. He has got good temperament and skills.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 28 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM SPORTS
VIOLATING JK GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES CONDUCT RULES
Srinagar, Nov 27: In clear violation of the JK Government Employees (Conduct) Rules 1971, the officials of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Jammu Municipal Corporation and Lakes and Waterways Development More
- Srinagar City
Years on, Govt fails to provide decent road connectivity to Valley’s sole tertiary care hospital
Srinagar, Nov 27: Want to know how concerned the administration is towards healthcare sector in Kashmir? Sample this: All roads leading to Valley’s sole super-speciality hospital –the SK Institute of Medical More