Hyderabad must show more respect to its great sportspersons

Last month the legendary footballer of the past Tulasidas Balaram breathed his last in Kolkata. Although he was born in Ammuguda in Secunderabad, he made his name while playing in Kolkata. He represented India in two Olympic Games and ensured a gold medal for India at one Asian Games. After his football career had ended he decided to live in Kolkata instead of returning to the city of his birth.

After his demise a memorial function was organised in Secunderabad during which a shocking fact emerged showcasing how little respect Hyderabad gives to its great sons.

One of Balaram’s relatives disclosed that many times she and her family had asked Balaram to return to Secunderabad and live with them. They wanted to take care of him in his old age. But Balaram refused to do so. He told her that in the twin cities he would never get the love and respect that he got from the people of Kolkata.

Another footballer said that in Kolkata the people are very passionate about sports. They knew who Balaram was even though he had stopped playing long ago. He could get help from the ordinary folks of Kolkata. Famous sportsmen never have to take any stress. At banks, railway counters, cinema halls and public places, they are given special treatment. They are recognised and people come forward eagerly to assist them. But that is not the case in Hyderabad. Here nobody cares.

Hyderabad is famous for many things. In many ways Hyderabad is ahead of other cities. But a passionate love for sport and its great players are missing. In Hyderabad we have different sports stadiums but all are named after politicians. The cricket stadium in Uppal is named after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The Lal Bahadur Shastri stadium is named after the former PM. The Gachibowli stadium is named after former Lok Sabha speaker GMC Balayogi. The indoor stadium at Yousufguda named after former Chief Minister Kotla Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy. There is also a stadium named after NTR. On the Tank Bund road there are many statues of famous personalities from different walks of life but not of a sportsperson.

So the question arises, when will sportspersons get their due? At the least the government could have honoured a sportsman after he or she has passed away.  It would have been fitting if the cricket stadium had been named after Ghulam Ahmed, India’s first cricket captain from Hyderabad who went on to contribute hugely to Indian cricket as an administrator too.

Syed Abdul Rahim, the football coach who took India to glory but was forgotten and unrewarded
Syed Abdul Rahim

And what about India’s most successful football coach Syed Abdul Rahim? Under his guidance Indian football witnessed its most glorious years. India came fourth in the Olympic Games, and got a gold medal in the 1962 Asian Games. During that tournament, India defeated Japan and Korea. Now we cannot even dream of beating Japan and Korea. These countries are now playing in the FIFA World Cup and India has dropped out of sight.

India’s achievements in football were due to Rahim. He spotted the talent, he developed the boys and he guided them when they played against the world’s top teams. Rahim spent his own money to help deserving but poor players. During team selection he fought for the inclusion of meritorious players. Yet today, not even a single statue stands in his honour in the city of Hyderabad. The future generations will not know who he was and what stupendous feats he accomplished.

M L Jaisimha

Cricketer M L Jaisimha too deserves a formal honour and a memorial. Even Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi had great faith in Jaisimha’s knowledge and leadership. Therefore, Pataudi who captained India, had no hesitation in playing under Jaisimha’s captaincy in Hyderabad. Such was the respect that the genius from Hyderabad commanded. But what did Jai get from the state government and the people of Hyderabad? There is no memorial statue nor has a sports ground been named after him. There is one stand in the Uppal stadium named after him but that is no way to recognise a man of his stature.

Even now it is not too late. The city is expanding. Many new roads are being constructed. Many localities are being built. Why not name some streets or some localities after our great sportsmen. The names listed in this article are just a few. There are many more deserving players, not only Balaram, Ghulam Ahmed, Rahim and Jaisimha. The Telangana government should keep alive the memory of the outstanding athletes who have grown up from the soil of Hyderabad and dedicate some prominent landmarks to them.