Keeping alive the memory of India’s football legends

Hakeem and football promoter Wasim Alvi have come together to put up a photo exhibition titled Hall of Fame that recognises the legends of the game. The photo exhibition will be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here from September 11 to 15.

Ayush Tyagi and S.S. Hakeem at the Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Friday.   -  Special Arrangement

Passion and spirit to live the game has driven S. S. Hakeem to associate with a project that would be his humble effort to keep alive the memory of football legends. Hakeem and football promoter Wasim Alvi have come together to put up a photo exhibition titled Hall of Fame that recognises the legends of the game.

“No one recognises and remembers old timers,” Hakeem lamented. He represented India at the 1960 and also became a FIFA referee. Hakeem was obviously pained at the state of the game. “No training, hence no participation” had dogged Indian football for a long time, he pointed out. “Today,” he insisted, “it was only training and little participation.”

Son of legendary football coach S. A. Rahim, the 75-year-old Hakeem asked, “What is the point of just training and not being able to showcase your talent. This effort to put up a Hall of Fame exhibition is to relive the golden past through pictures of the achievers.”

Hakeem and Alvi have collected some rare pictures of old footballers for the exhibition which will highlight some of India's glorious achievements. “Finishing fourth at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and winning the Asian Games gold at Delhi (1951) and Jakarta (1962) were the highlights of Indian football. Sadly, we have not been able to match those feats despite improvement in the infrastructure,” said Hakeem.

For Hakeem, meeting 14-year-old Ayush Tyagi was a warm moment. Tyagi is part of Alvi's mission to provide support to talented youngsters. A ninth standard student of Gurukul School, Tyagi was sent to Polland where he turned out for Varsovia Club and trained for two months in different age groups.

“It was a great learning process for me. Training with them was a hard experience but I enjoyed it because it made me a better player,” said Tyagi, who has also received training in England, Scotland, Bangkok and South Africa.

The photo exhibition will be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here from September 11 to 15. “India is holding the FIFA under-17 World Cup and this exhibition is our tribute to our past legends,” Hakeem added.

Schools, Clubs and Colleges would be extended invitations to visit the exhibition and learn about India's football history. “It is as popular as cricket and the under-17 World Cup should give football a boost,” Hakeem opined.