Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Nitin B| The News Minute | November 12, 2014 | 09:10 pm IST Syed Abdus Salam is a 75 year old man who has been bed ridden from the past 3 years and is on intravenous (IV) fluids. He lives in a rented house with his son Kaleem Ahmed who takes care of his father. But he is no ordinary old man. He played centre-back for the 1956 Indian Olympic team which is up to this day considered one of the finest teams in the history of this country. The '50s and early '60s was a time when Indian football was at its peak. This era witnessed the emergence of the finest footballers of our country.  S. A. Salam was one of them. He played for Mohammedan Sporting (MS) FC his entire career and the team won both the Calcutta football League and IFA Shield in 1957 under his captaincy. Only three members of that team are alive today.  A very emotional Kaleem Ahmed told The News Minute that “I've been trying to get financial aid for my father from the last 3 years. Neither the state government nor the central government wants to do anything” “I've mailed the All India Football Federation (AIFF) several times in the last 2 months giving them a gap of one week to respond. They have not replied as yet” Salam has been on IV fluids ever since he had an accident and slipped in the washroom 3 years ago. Kaleem who is a tennis coach for a local academy called "Tariq sports academy" says that though his father gets a pension, expenses alone easily cross 50 thousand. "Every third day, a doctor comes to check on my father. He also has a crack in his hip joint and the doctors say that there is only a 30% chance of survival if an operation is done." “My father wrote to the authorities for years to try and get some compensation for the 56’ Olympic football team. I still have clippings from 2002 when Chandra Babu Naidu announced a compensation of 1 lakh to the athletes. It was only on paper. Nothing came in reality” The 56’ team is the last team that represented India in the Olympics and was considered the best team in the entire continent of Asia during the golden era of Indian football.                                                                              Kaalem also claimed that the state government did not even acknowledge the original Olympians. “People like Mr. Gopichand (badminton) and Mr. Mukesh (Hockey) from Hyderabad were awarded just for participating whereas my father and his team have been ignored completely” Salam along with Arun Ghosh jointly coached the Indian junior team which finished as joint champions with Iran at the 1974 Asian Youth Championships. "The only junior team to have done so" Kaalem adds. Kaalem says that all his father wanted was for the government to recognize the 56' Olympians and treat them with the respect they deserved. "My father has not even got the Dronacharya award for coaching the junior team. These awards not only have cash awards but also added benefits that could really help him." Kaleem also tried seeking help from the Telangana government and appealed to chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao, the two deputy chief ministers and the state health minister, all with no response. Salaam and his family have been awaiting recognition for years and the wait likely does not see an end in the near future. Tweet

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