Sunday, May 11, 2008

More Ismaili Sports Legends

Zee's notes: Thanks to all those who emailed and called on my comments on some of the Ismaili sporting legends a few days ago. Here are some more:

Amir Esmail: Amir was a soccer star who was good enough to play in the big leagues in Portugal. Though he passed away a few years ago, I had the opportunity to know him as he lived in Vancouver. I knew him to be a tremendous teacher of the game and he always had the time to impart his knowledge to a willing listener. Amir also loved to sing ginans in JK and truly was a humble gentleman. His son Karim also was a star soccer player in the Vancouver High School scene and he coaches youngsters in the Ismaili Youth Soccer Camp.

Amin Bhulji: No words can describe 'Bhulji's' passion for the game of soccer. I have heard legendary tales of his soccer prowess when he dazzled crowds as a forward for the Young Africans (Yanga) Soccer Club in Dar-es-salaam. He moved to Vancouver in the early 1970's and impressed scouts to be given a shot at trying out for the old Vancouver Whitecaps of the NASL - a professional league. Though injuries and age worked against him Bhulji continued his passion with the Ismaili Soccer Club in Vancouver which has been in existense now for 30 plus years. Many young Ismailis, who owe their early development to Bhulji, went on to play for their Colleges and Universities across Canada. A few years ago he started the very successful Ismaili Youth Soccer Camp. Bhulji will be 'going home' for the Golden Jubilee Games as Coach of the Canada Ismaili Mens Soccer Team.

Shiraz Sumar: 'Sumar' was another cricket legend - in Tanzania. He is the only Ismaili ever to play in the World Cup of Cricket - 1975 in England for East Africa. Shiraz's exploits on the field were always the talk of the town and moreso he was known for his leadership skills which earned him the Captainship of the Tanzania National Team. I remember one year he came to Vancouver to play a few games for the Ismaili Club, then known as the Aga Khan Cricket Club, and the stories he told us of his experiences over the years you had to appreciate what he had accomplished in his sporting life. Sadly Sumar could not make it to Vancouver for the CIG games due to family commitments and he was sorely missed.

If you are a cricket fan and from Dar click here for a trip down memory lane - did you know that in August 1946 (year of the Diamond Jubilee) at the annual Aga Khan Cup Tournament Mowlana Sultan Mohammed Shah sat through the game and presented the trophy to the winning team at the Dar-es-salaam Gymkhana. Wow - wouldn't it be something if history repeats itself at the Golden Jubilee Games in Nairobi in 6 weeks !!!