Kamrul Islam Kismat, a member of Bangladesh squad for 1985 Asia Cup hockey, is regarded as one of the great players of Bangladesh’s golden generation. A product of famous Armanitola High School, Kismat is currently working as the chief selector of hockey. Ahead of another Asia Cup in Dhaka from October 11 to 22, Sudipta Ananda of New Age took him down the memory lane. Here are the excerpts of his interview.
Q: The 1985 Asia Cup was considered as a memorable tournament for Bangladesh. After 32 years Asia’s biggest hockey tournament returned to Dhaka. How do you feel?
Kismat: I was a player 32 years ago and now I am an organiser, chief selector as well as a member of federation’s executive committee. I’m really excited to see the tournament back here after such a long gap. We lost some of our team-mates like Jumman Lusai, Kanchan [Jashimuddin Ahmed], manager Sabbir Bhai [Sabbir Yusuf]. I’m so grateful to my almighty Allah because he kept me alive to see another Asia Cup here.
Q: What is your best memory from the tournament in 1985?
Kismat: At that time hockey was not so popular game in the country. We didn’t get any extra facilities but we had a great understanding between each other. The result came after a great team-work nothing else. Before facing mighty opponents like Pakistan, we never thought that they were better than us. We thought we had the ability to play neck-to-neck. And that confidence helped us a lot to perform well. Before the tournament, our general secretary Momin Bhai [Mahmudur Rahman] gave the inspirational speech that motivated us and we had a huge patriotism.
Q: What is your memory about Pakistan game which Bangladesh lost by 1-0 margin?
Kismat: At that time Pakistan came after winning Olympic Gold medal, Asian Games gold medal. It was really exciting for us to play against a star-studded Pakistan team but when we took the field we forgot who our opponents were. We dominated the game from the first minute which made Pakistan team surprised. We conceded a last moment goal but if we had taken a defensive strategy in the last moment we wouldn’t have lost the game.
Q: What about your personal memories in the tournament?
Kismat: I have two different memories of the tournament. After the tournament where we finished fifth, former president Ershad [Hussain Muhammad Ershad] accorded us a reception at the Bangabhaban [official residence of the president of Bangladesh]. Inside the Bangabhaban there were two reserved chairs for the president and his distinguished guest. Suddenly I thought that it would be a rare chance for me to sit on the president’s chair for once and I immediately told my team-mate Lulu [Jamil Parvez] to take a photograph when I sit on the chair. When he took the snap a group of guards started questioning me why I did such thing. I was bit scared but didn’t lose my nerve and replied—Look I would never become the president of the country. So I thought its great chance for me to sit the president’s chair once and I took the opportunity. The guards started me laughing and warned me not to do such thing ever. I still preserved the snap in my family album. My second memory is from the Pakistan game. It was the saddest moment in my entire career. Against Pakistan, I created a great scoring opportunity. I ran past my marker, entered into the shooting circle and had a great room to try it. But I instead passed it to my attacking partner Tisha [Salahuddin Chowdhury] instead of hitting the post. When I passed it to Tisha, Pakistani keeper left the post to restrict Tisha and I shouted him to pass the ball back to me again because I found the net empty but could not pass it me and we lost a great scoring opportunity. If we could score that time, I think we might have come up with a win against Pakistan.
Q: What do you expect from the current squad?
Kismat: We had a great bondage in the team to present a great performance in the 1985 Asia Cup. If our boys can show same unity and play a fearless game with the help of home advantage they have a bright chance to come out with a good result.
Q: The 1985 Asia Cup created the passion for hockey in the country but unfortunately it did not last long. Why did it happen?
Kismat: the Poor organisational attitude of the then officials we lost a great opportunity to uplift the game. We saw a greed for power, which led us to internal bickering creating a stumbling block for the development of the game. I am sorry to say, we hardly thought about taking the game forward. This is why we are yet to find a place in the Asian level. If we could cash in on the success of second Asia Cup properly, I believed we would have played in the Hockey World Cup. You can develop all infrastructures but as long as you don’t develop your mind you would never develop the game.
Q: You are a product of Armanitola Government School and College of Old Dhaka. The school was known for its abundance hockey talents. Can you please share your early life?
Kismat: In my early life I was a football player but sometimes I tried hockey and once I was picked for the Inter-School Hockey team. However, after the tournament, school authority dropped me from the Inter-Division squad which made me disappointed and I decided that I have to be a great hockey player and that determination helped me a lot to become a hockey player. Later I played for most of the top clubs, including Mohammedan, Abahani, and Usha and represented Bangladesh national team for a long period as a regular striker.
Q: We have lost some of your team-mates. Among them, you had a great friendship with Jumman Lusai, the best performer in the 1985 Asia Cup. How do you remember them?
Kismat: When I was playing for Abahani, Lusai was my best friend and we played for Abahani and the national team for a long period. Besides, we also lost Malek Chunnu, Kanchan [Jashimuddin Ahmed] and our manager Sabbir Yusuf Bhai, who all very close to me. They are always in my heart. I am if they were alive they would very happy to see us hosting another Asia Cup. I am also missing some of my team-mates who are now living in abroad.
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