Wednesday, 10 August, 2022

Remembering Sheikh Kamal on his Birthday: The Youngman with Progressive Thoughts

The place that Sheikh Kamal, the modern sports-minded, reformist and revolutionary sports organiser, occupied in the history of Bangladesh’s sports arena by bringing epoch-making changes is ever-lasting. I wonder thinking how was it possible for a realistic personality, also a dreamer to bring a radical change in the country’s sports scenario within just 26 years and a few days!  He cherished   sports-related dream in heart since the pre-independence period. While fighting the enemy with arms in hands during our Liberation War, he used to tell his friends, “Once the country gets liberated, I’ll change the sports scenario.”

All these are now part of history. In independent Bangladesh, he has fulfilled his dream. After independence, Sheikh Kamal, the second child of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, has been recognised as the first and foremost reformer and change maker by reforming the sports arena. He was an energised patriot. He always nourished the spirit of the Liberation War in heart. He loved games and sports from the core of his heart. He had unlimited interest in it. He was a man of firm determination and had the commitment towards the field of sports in the country that was bought at the cost of blood of hundreds of thousands martyrs.

At playground, he acted and took initiatives by recognising the requirement of time and demand. He reached the ultimate goal by involving all quarters in the club. He proved beyond doubt that everyone is capable of rising above the surrounding environment and can attain success if anyone has the dedication and sincerity. Vision and single-mindedness have transformed Sheikh Kamal into a unique sports organiser worth-emulating. Courage, honesty, far-sightedness, self-confidence, tolerance and wisdom are the essential qualities to become a worthy organiser. Sheikh Kamal had all the qualities. He was involved in politics, but kept party politics away from the playground. He was uncompromising on this issue. He had deep respect and love for sports organisers and players. Always, he stood by them.

After independence, he became a pioneer in creating a healthy environment in the field of sports. He encouraged the players for fair play and tried to enhance their image in society and helped them financially. The optimistic personality was ever vocal on the issue of morality and good governance. He gave importance to collective strength. Whatever he did, he did it with courage, wisdom and self-confidence. Kamal always gave leadership from behind so that others feel their presence in the forefront. Despite being involved in forming different teams in his own Abahani Club, he took the responsibility of club president for merely a few months in 1975. Although he believed in ‘flexible’ management, on the question of morality and club discipline he remained uncompromising. He was dead against ‘favouritism’ among players. While introducing the new team Abahani for the first time to take part in various games and in selecting captains, he showed wisdom and far-sightedness. Because of this phenomenon, the new club tasted victory by winning titles in cricket, football and hockey. The area-based club instantly turned into the country’s best team. Beyond the country’s boundary, it earned goodwill as well. Standing behind the club, he was able to create a large number of supporters and fans. They were attracted by the club players’ fair play earning their victory. Sheikh Kamal not only enhanced the appeal of games and sports, but gave birth to a new taste at playground.

Since inception, youth and their ability as well as possibility got prominence in Sheikh Kamal’s thoughts.  He wanted to utilise the power of youth at playground

Sheikh Kamal himself was a player. He played cricket, basketball, volleyball, football, badminton and athletics. He wandered in every sphere of games and sports. He gave priority to organising games over self-excellence. The ultimate beneficiary was the greater national sports arena. Had he not been a victim of the brutal incident of 1975 and remained alive, he could contribute immensely towards the field of games and sports and this particular field could have been enriched. Because of his demise, the country’s sports arena was hit-hard.

While witnessing English football at night, I pondered over Sheikh Kamal. Forty-eight years from now, he revolutionised domestic football by introducing the European style of soccer in Abahani by bringing Irish coach Bill Heart.  He brought a new taste on the premises of the century-old conservative football of Bengalis what we termed as modern soccer. When Abahani was pursuing the European style of football, uproar over football of olden times was noticed during the exciting Calcutta (now Kolkata) Football League tournament. Not only at home, Abahani has opened the eyes of clubs in neighbouring countries. It was the country’s first club where a foreign coach was employed. It has brought a new dimension to domestic football. This has happened due to Sheikh Kamal’s progressive thoughts.

Sheikh Kamal was involved with Bangladesh Football Federation in various capacities. To me it seemed more important when he formed the Metropolis Football Players’ Association to protect the interest of football players. He shouldered the responsibility of President of this association. Secondly, he formed the Bangabandhu Welfare Trust in 1975 to financially help the distressed players.

In recognition to his extraordinary contributions as a sports organiser, Sheikh Kamal was honoured with the prestigious Swadhinata Purosker (Independence Award) in 1998. And, in 2011, he was bestowed upon Jatiya Krira Purosker (National Sports Award). Late Sheikh Kamal is a true source of inspiration for the country’s sportspersons.

Post Script

Today is August 5, the 73rd birthday of Sheikh Kamal. He is no more with us. On August 15, 1975, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members were killed by native killers. Sheikh Kamal was a multi-faceted genius. The combination of so many qualities and talents in one person is really rare. On the one hand, he was a sportsperson, a sports organiser; on the other hand, he had a multi-faceted talent in cultural and social work. Alongside, he was a seasoned politician. In this article, I have discussed, in brief, his organisational role and progressive thoughts. His organisational role is an asset of our history. This is not only a remembrance of the past, but also a future guideline. As a matter of fact, all roads of history lead to the future.   

Source: Sun Editorial