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Dhaka Tribune

‘What Kazi Shahid Ahmed did for Abahani is history’

Kazi Shahid Ahmed was a renowned entrepreneur, writer and publisher, but here former star footballer Ashraf Uddin Ahmed Chunnu only talked about Kazi Shahid's sports organizing role at Abahani Limited Dhaka during an exclusive interview with Dhaka Tribune

Update : 30 Aug 2023, 12:12 AM

Kazi Shahid Ahmed’s name would be colored in golden letters in the history of Bangladesh sports for his instrumental organizing role at Abahani Limited Dhaka, especially during the darkest period of the country’s most successful club, starting from the mid-1970s.

The brutal assassination of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and his family, including Abahani founder Sheikh Kamal on August 15, 1975 saw then-Abahani Krira Chakra left devastated but Kazi Shahid Ahmed took the challenge to steer the prestigious sports club.

Kazi Shahid Ahmed later became the director-in-charge of the club when it turned into a limited company in 1990 and continued to serve the post until his last breath Monday.

Former star footballer Ashraf Uddin Ahmed Chunnu was a young forward at Abahani when Kazi Shahid Ahmed joined the Dhanmondi-based club.

Chunnu later became the coach, manager and football secretary of the club and collaborated with Kazi Shahid Ahmed on numerous occasions in almost three decades of running the traditional powerhouse.

Kazi Shahid Ahmed was also a renowned entrepreneur, writer and publisher, but here Chunnu only talked about his sports organizing role at Abahani during an exclusive interview with Dhaka Tribune.

Below are the excerpts:

You first saw Kazi Shahid Ahmed when you were a footballer of Abahani. Can you recall the meeting?

Kazi Shahid Ahmed appeared as a savior of Abahani in 1976. It was difficult times for the club after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family. We, the players, became almost guardian less. The officials had to leave for hideout. They met sometimes to look after us. In those times, an annual general meeting took place in 1976 where we, the players, were present. We saw a gentleman (Kazi Shahid Ahmed) in white panjabi and pajama joining the meeting. Many people at Abahani and in the meeting room knew him from before as he lived in Dhanmondi. He was Lt. Colonel at that time. He gave a wonderful speech in front of us which I can still remember. He said, “I came here because I love Abahani. Abahani are my favorite team. I want to work for the club in this difficult time. Give me the opportunity.” I was very young, may be 20 or 21 years old. We became calm after his sharp speech. He became involved with the club through heart and soul since then.

How do you evaluate his contribution for the club at that time?

Kazi Shahid Ahmed’s contribution was invaluable. It’s huge. He supported us spending his own money. He worked hard for the club. He also trained us when we didn’t have a coach. Sometimes, he was a guardian. Sometimes, he was a friend. Sometimes, he was a teacher to us. He maintained this connection until his last breath. He couldn’t give much time to the club due to illness in the last seven-eight years but he always thought of the club. We lost a person who is actually devoted to the club. Everything we achieved since 1976, I can never forget his contributions.

Can you think of any Kazi Shahid Ahmed memories from your playing career?

The house he lived in was close to the club. After 1976, he came to the club on daily basis. When we lost matches, he used to inspire us. He came to training regularly. When he thought the players lacked fitness, he came in the morning and evening and made us run around Dhanmondi area. He rode on a jeep behind us so that we became serious. There was fear and respect due to his attitude, behavior, movement and words.

How was his impact on other players?

We, the players, were afraid after Bangabandhu killing. The administration always had an eye on us. The Detective Branch, Special Branch and people of other investigative branches used to walk around the club. They noticed what we did. They wanted us not to get involved in Awami League politics. We knew that spies were all around us. We became careful wherever we went. At that time, a person like Kazi Shahid Ahmed being close to the government as a Lt. Colonel made us feel safe and secured. He also built a very good relation with the players. It was exceptional. Whenever he visited the club, he held a meeting with us. He gossiped with the players after practice. He was very polite and humoristic. His words encouraged us. He gave us advice. We really lost a lover of Abahani. I feel very sad.

After retirement, you also worked with him at the club in different roles…

I worked with him for a long time after I quit playing, first as a coach, then as a manager followed by football secretary. I found it comfortable working with him. I often got inspired by his advice. He was a devoted organizer. He was also a strong person. I was a coach cum player in 1988, the same year I retired as a footballer. After that, I became the manager of the club and got even closer to him. We worked together to form the team along with chairman Salman F Rahman. I worked according to his directions. He regularly took the news of players. His door was always open for Abahani. If anyone from Abahani went to his office he never kept them waiting. He gave Abahani first priority before resuming his official work. I always noticed this. He was such a great personality.

Any other aspects of Kazi Shahid Ahmed that you liked while working together?

There are lots of memories which I can’t forget. I worked with him almost every day. We often had meetings after breakfast. The discussions were like, what the players would eat, their fitness, and who may play and who may not. Another thing is that he always gave the coach the freedom. He gave his suggestions but never interfered with coach’s decisions. It caught my attention. I always respect this aspect of his personality.

Given his multifaceted talents as a sports organizer, why didn’t he get involved with other sports organizations?

He was often given proposals to become president or general secretary of sports federations but he always rejected those because of his involvement in business. He didn’t want to get involved with any other organization except Abahani. He received many such offers and I’m a direct witness to this.

You have been involved in sports arena since the independence. What is the importance of having an organizer like Kazi Shahid Ahmed in this sector?

It’s very difficult to have an organizer like him. He was devoted and unselfish. He showed his organizing skills while running this club, and spent a lot of time and money for it. He was a unique personality at Abahani. If there are more people like him in other clubs or federations, Bangladesh’s sports would be in a great height. But what he did for Abahani has become history.

Timeline: Death of Kazi Shahid Ahmed
29 Aug 2023, 22:01
‘What Kazi Shahid Ahmed did for Abahani is history’
29 Aug 2023, 18:19
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