3/13/2018 8:16:58 AM (GMT+3)

Bengal football better than Hyderabad, says Olympian Balaram

Bengal football better than Hyderabad, says Olympian Balaram

CALCUTTA, India: Veteran Olympian and 1962 Asian Games gold medallist Tulsidas Balaram had broken his link with Indian football fraternity long back.

But the 80-year-old, who represented the country at the 1956 and 1960 Olympics in Melbourne and Rome, had a surprise visitor in fellow Hyderabadi and former India international Mohammad Farid at his Uttarpara residence.

“It was a great pleasure discussing Kolkata and Hyderabad football with Farid. We stay in the same state, but met after 32 years. It was a great feeling to connect to the sport after a long time,” said Balaram, who made Bengal his home since he retired in 1962.

One of the living legends in Indian football, the soft-spoken former East Bengal and India forward share a common link with the 58-year-old Farid – they started their careers in Kolkata with East Bengal.

While most of their former Hyderabadi team-mates had left the city after their careers, the duo along with Syed Nayeemuddin stayed back in Bengal.

“I’ve been meeting him after so many years. The last time I had met was when I was a Mohun Bagan player. He had come over at the club tent and shared some few moments with us,” said Farid, who retired from the sport in 1992 after representing Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting.

Both Balaram and Farid discussed the sport’s declining standard in Bengal and Hyderabad, and also how to develop it.

“The focus should be on the districts. Bengal is doing better in terms of development, but Hyderabad football is dead. We need to encourage youngsters and boost the sport in schools and colleges,” added Balaram, who enjoyed a demi-God status among the East Bengal fans for his commitment.

Farid played alongside top stars like late Krishanu Dey, Alok Mukherjee and Atanu Bhattacharya among others, and has chosen to teach football to Kolkata's under-privileged kids in his locality at Salt Lake.

“I’m happy to know he (Farid) has been mentoring a group of poor footballers in Kolkata for last 25 years. I wasn’t aware of it and I admire his generosity. It’s also great to know that Riyada company is investing on Bengal football’s development. Such initiatives are important to attract the youngsters,” added the 1962 Asian Games gold medallist.

However, there was a piece of advice from the living legend.

“Do your work and don’t expect rewards. What you do today for football’s development, will be remembered by your students. Carry on the good work,” he told Farid.