Varanasi shocked, but in true tradition the stories


Mohammed Shahidhailed from a financially-weak background that always threatened to disrupt his development as a young and promising hockey player, but it was the support of his early coaches that saw him pull through.
As news of his death in the Capital reached the ancient city, Varanasi was plunged into shock but as it is with this town of stories and story-tellers, anecdotes of the hockey legend too spilled out.Although the went their ways decades ago, Shahid’s childhood friends FahimMohammad Khan and Mohd Nayeem on Wednesday, reckoned how the city’s ‘Khatarnak Tikadi’ (Dangerous Trio) was finally broken now. Shahid, Fahim and Nayeem, who lived in the city’s Orderly Bazar and adjoining areas, used to hang out at Police Lines ground simply to get a glimpse of players like Gauri Shankar Singh (father of late Olympian Vivek Singh) go about their practice sessions.This was before they earned admission at the JP Mehta Inter College in 1976, on basis of their hockey potential. Fahim recalls that it was impossible for Shahid to buy a hockey stick as his family couldn’t afford it. The college sports teachers came to his rescue by allotting all three hockey sticks from the college equipment. That was the start of their hockey journey. Recalls Fahim, “We all played in the forward line. I preferred left-out position while Shahid and Nayeem would be left-in and centreforward respectively.”Within a year, the trio was inducted in the Varanasi-XI to play a tournament in Lucknow.Impressed with their talent, KD Singh Babu and Jaman Lal Sharma ensured their admission to the Lucknow Sports Hostel, back then a flourishing sports nursery for talented sportspersons from the state.Even here, his family’s weak financial condition would force Shahid to return home frequently but it was the state government’s support that eventually enabled him to continue his career in hockey. The hard work resulted in their selection for the national camp where they were inducted in India’s team for the Junior World Cup in France, 1979.In France, Shahid was adjudged as the best forward in France and the very next year, he was in the senior India team for the Moscow Olympics, recalls Nayeem, who himself was part of the Indian team between 1980 and 1987. “As long we played for UP and the Railways, we were known as ‘Khatarnak Tikadi’,” remembers Fahim, who was edged out from the Indian XI for the 1982 Asian Games due to the presence ofZafar Iqbal at left-out position.”Shahid was extraordinary since the beginning,” recalls Gauri Shankar, “Not only skilled in dribbling and very sharp on the field, he also used to innovate hits. Defenders of any team of the world didn’t mean anything to him.”But it was a softer, gentler side of Shahid’s that his old striking partners recalled fondly. “Even when rivals deliberately caused him injuries, Shahid never retaliated. He believed in teaching them a lesson with the ball. And, once off the field, he’d enthrall team members and rivals alike with his ghazals and shaayri. ‘Kaisey ho, Partner?’ were his famous introductory words. Now we’ll never hear those words again,” said Fahim.SHAHID TO BE BURIED CLOSE TO FIRST PLAYING GROUNDVaranasi: Mohammed Shahid will be laid to rest at the Taktakpur graveyard on Thursday, close to the Police Lines ground where he first began playing hockey.The hockey legend’s body reached Varanasi late on Wednesday. Wife Parveen and son Mohd Saif accompanied the body. Hundreds of locals including admirers, relatives and family members had had gathered at the Varanasi Airport, Babatpur to welcome their hero on his final journey home.”The body was taken to his Maqbool Alam Road residence. The final procession will begin following the ‘Zohar ki namaaz’ (afternoon prayers).

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