Friday, 31 March, 2023

From Iqbal Khan to Tamim Iqbal: A family synonymous with sports

From Iqbal Khan to Tamim Iqbal: A family synonymous with sports

The Khans are known to be the torch bearers of the sports fraternity in the port city of Bangladesh.

Former national skipper Akram Khan won the ICC Trophy in 1997 which is considered to be the stepping stone for Bangladesh towards earning a respectable spot in the cricketing world.

His two nephews Nafees Iqbal Khan and Tamim Iqbal Khan also represented the country and while the former’s international cricket career was cut short due to various reasons, the latter is continuing the legacy with firm hands, both on and off the field.

Tamim is arguably one of the best batsmen in the country and now is responsible for leading the side in the 50-over format.

However, their rise in sports can be credited to the dream of one man called late Iqbal Khan who dared to dream against all odds.

Iqbal, the senior member of the Khan family, is father of the Tamim and Nafees duo but to the rest of the Chattogram locals with whom he had spent his time running after his dream to produce national sportsman, he is fondly remembered as Iqbal bhai.

Many believe the love for sports in the Khan family is the by-product of Iqbal’s passion for sports which started with KKRC (Kazir Deori Khaza Recreation Club) which was later brought by Chattogram Abahani.

Iqbal decided to sacrifice his football career despite being a star booter for East End Club in order to groom footballers in Chattogram.

After the liberation war, it was difficult to finance a sports club from his own pocket but he took up the challenge at the expense of his family business.

There is a very popular story in the sports fraternity of Chattogram that all the players who used to train with Iqbal had the luxury of having free meals in his father’s Khawaja Hotel though and at times it used to irritate his father considering his father was expecting him be interested in business rather than passing his time chasing his dream.

Former national footballer Ashish Bhadra is considered to be one of the many footballers groomed by Iqbal and he admitted that unless there was someone of the likes of Iqbal Khan, it would have been difficult for players like him to rise to the top0level which also turned out to be an inspiration for others.

“I think he can be considered as a pioneer for sports in Chattogram for his contribution,” Ashish told The Daily Sun.

“He was also called for national team trials and during his stay in Dhaka whenever he was training anywhere, he would note down all the training modules for us and later instructed us to follow those. It was quite amazing considering there was no YouTube or things like that in those times,” he said.

“His planning and coaching was extremely good. I was amazed to observe that when I came to Dhaka in 1977 during practice I did not find it hard to adapt to the drill as I was accustomed to those drills courtesy of Iqbal bhai earlier,” he said.

“He sacrificed his own football career for us because his only dream was to make sure footballers from Chattogram make their mark in the national setting,” he said.

While Iqbal is known for his football skill as he was leading the Chattogram Mohammedan in port city not many are aware about his cricketing credentials but according to Ashish, he was an extremely adept batsman at number six as well.

“During those times he also played cricket and was a hard hitting batman coming at six and even represented Railways but did not elongate his cricket career as he could not manage time,” he said.

Though Iqbal did not continue his cricket career for long, his blood did not choose any other option but to try their luck in cricket and they managed to do so successfully.

“I think our love for sports comes largely from him as we were brought up in a sporting environment and he was a true inspiration to all of us,” said Nafees.

“Though I did not get to see much of him as I came to Dhaka early in my life for studies, I knew that my father was involved with sports from the early days and that had fascinated us hugely. It remained the same after so many years,” he said, who lost his father in 2000.

Tamim also admitted that though he did not get to spend much time with his father and regretted that he is not alive to see Tamim’s rise but added that he is well aware that their family’s love for sports largely came from his father.

“The main reason I play cricket is to fulfill his dream as he always wanted me to play cricket and represent the country,” said Tamim.

“I was too young when he passed away. Still, what I hear from others about my father all I wish is that if I could see him in action,” he said.

“To be honest, I also try to follow his footsteps. In my life there is no super hero and if I have to name one that is my father,” he said.

Tamim added that he had learnt from his grandmother about his father’s passion to help out footballers of Chattogram.

“I heard that he used to bring boots and jerseys from abroad for Ashish Uncle and others and even I heard from my grandmother that he used to take a lot of money from my grandfather to fund his team and though my dada was not happy with it, my Dadi used to manage it,” he said.

Following the footsteps of his father, Tamim has also gained reputation for helping out sportsmen in their times of need.

While Iqbal lived for 49 years, his sons opted to fulfill the dreams which he treasured at the core of his heart and as a result ‘Khan Family’ is still considered the major influence in Chattogram’s sports fraternity.