Even as India rejoices in the success of many of its stars from a wide array of sports, the family of one of India’s greatest athletics coaches is contemplating selling a prestigious award to help deal with straitened circumstances.
In 1978, Mohammad Ilyas Babar was presented with the ‘Adidas Golden Shoe’ for being declared as the best coach in Asia by a panel of international experts. Babar passed away at the age of 76 in 2002, after producing some of India’s finest athletes including two Padma Shri Awardees and five Arjuna Awardees, and after accounting for 17 gold medals in the Asian Games and the Asian Track & Field Championships.
In the by-lanes of Toli Chowk here, his family is now mulling over whether to sell the ‘Adidas Golden Shoe’.
Dronacharya Mohammad Ilyas Babar pictured here in 2002. Photo: P.V. SIVAKUMAR
The life of Ilyas Babar, who was conferred the Dronacharya Award in 1994, was a struggle and now his family is facing similar hardships for want of support from the State and the Central Governments.
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“Well, what else can we do? We are fed up, virtually begging for some financial help since 2006. We have been running from pillar to post meeting senior State government officials for financial help and also seeking a house site,” said Babar’s wife Mumtaz Ilyas.
“What more should Babar saab have achieved for his surviving family members to deserve more?” she asked. “It hurts, definitely. But, what to do.”
Mumtaz, her four sons – two unemployed and two working in the private sector – and her four daughters are being helped by former national athlete Syed Khaiser, who also trained under Babar. Mumtaz appealed to Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhara Rao to help her family.
Sriram Singh (left) and his mentor llyas Babar in conversation at the long distance running camp for athletes in Patiala in 1986. Photo: The Hindu Archives
“This kind of indifference was never expected for the family of a coach who was adored and who sacrificed so much for the success of his wards. We are living in a rented house even now. We don’t crib about the modern day champions getting all the accolades and incentives. But, is it fair to forget those who slogged when national pride took precedence to everything else?” she asked.
“The way we have been made to run around for getting any kind of help, makes us wonder whether Babar saab was right in giving everything during his peak for Indian athletics,” said Khaiser.