Footballer, Referee and Statistician — COVID takes away 3 noble souls of Indian sports

Heartbreaking news are coming in from across India as a second Covid-19 wave wreaks havoc. Data suggests that this wave is proving to be more infectious and deadlier in some states, although India’s death rate from the virus is still relatively low. But the county’s healthcare system is crumbling amid the surge in cases – doctors say it’s hard for them to “see the light at the end of the tunnel this time”. While we have hearing death news of eminent personalities, we mourn the sad demise of three pure souls of Indians sports – a footballer-turned coach, a referee and a statistician. The three personalities are Ahmed Hussain, Anupama Puchimanda and BG Joshi.

Ahmed Hussain

Ahmed Hussain (Source: Times of India)

Ahmed Hussain was an Indian star footballer and a member of the famed 1956 Melbourne Olympics, who passed away on April 16, at the age of 89. Born in 1932, Hussain started his career with Hyderabad City Police. While playing for the club he was selected in the Indian squad which took part in the 1951 Asian Games held in New Delhi and won the gold.

A defender, Hussain was also a part of the Indian Olympics football team that put on a fantastic show in Melbourne (1956) where they thrashed Australia 4-2 to eventually finish fourth in the tournament. Hussain was captain of the Mohammedan Sporting Club and had played for Hyderabad Sporting Club. He was famed for playing at the center half and center-back position. Later, he joined the Sports Authority of India, South Centre, in Bengaluru as a coach. He also took a liking for refereeing and officiated in big tournaments including the Stafford Cup.

A product of Hyderabad City College, Hussain was part of Hyderabad’s golden generation of players who won the 1956 Santosh Trophy in Trivandrum. Trained by Hyderabad and India coach SA Rahim, he was soon a pivot in the three-back defence system. After the Melbourne Olympics, Hussain was a regular in the India squad. He was also in the 1958 Tokyo Asian Games team that finished fourth after losing to Indonesia in the third-place playoff.

Anupama Puchimanda

Anupama Puchimanda (Source TOI)

Anupama Puchimanda (Source TOI)

India’s first-ever international woman hockey referee Anupama Puchimanda passed away on April 18. Born on July 8, 1980, Anupama was a native of Bethu village in Kodagu, Karnataka. As a referee, Anupama had officiated in 88 international hockey matches including World Junior Hockey, Asian Games, and Commonwealth Games.

She started her career as an international hockey umpire in 2004 and was the first woman referee from India to officiate in international hockey matches. She was selected by the International Hockey Federation as one of the youngest umpires among ten men and women in the world.

Anupama as an umpire officiated the first Takamadonomiya four-nation International hockey tournament held in Japan, the junior Asia Cup held in Hyderabad (India) 2004, East Asian Games held in Macaw 2005, junior World Cup held in Chile, Santiago 2005, six-nation international tournament held in Korea in 2005, the Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne, Australia 2006 and various other national and international matches.

For her remarkable achievements, she was honoured with the title of Best Umpire (Women) India by Sardar Gain Singh Memorial Hockey Society in New Delhi in 2007, and Namma Bengaluru Award Sportsperson in February 2011, among others.

Baboolal Goverdhan Joshi

BG Joshi (Source: Times of India)

BG Joshi (Source: Times of India)

Renowned hockey statistician and historian Baboolal Goverdhan Joshi died on April 20 owing to COVID-19. Joshi was 67. Joshi, who died in Bhopal, is survived by his wife Krishna and two sons, Shravan and Neeraj. The hockey historian worked as an engineer at the Madhya Pradesh Water Resource Department. A passionate lover of the game, Joshi has been maintaining records of the sport since the early 1970s and also contributed hockey statistics to several national dailies.`1`

His dedication to collect stats made him one of the purest souls in the world of hockey with an unparalleled record. At a time of numerous research work and stat-based data collection, Joshi was a one-man army who would go to any length to keep the record books ticked. Not only India, but other federations relied upon Joshi to collect data on hockey.

Joshi started his stat collection since the 1970 Asian Games by listening to the commentary on the radio. His interest grew further with India winning the 1975 World Cup. Till his demise, he kept a record of all of India’s hockey matches.

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