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India’s 1960 Olympic footballer SS Hakim tests COVID-19 positive, seeks govt’s help

Hakim, who was a member of India's football team at the 1960 Rome Olympics that finished sixth, said he had not received any assistance from the government.

Written by Parveen K Dogra |
July 15, 2020 3:35:14 pm
SS Hakim In a career spanning nearly 25 years, Hakeem started refereeing from 1970 and successfully officiated 33 international games till 1989, including the 1988 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar. (FILE)

Former Olympic footballer and ex-national football coach Syed Shahid Hakim tested positive for Covid-19 and the 81-year-old is quarantined in a Hyderabad hotel after failing to find a bed in the military hospital. He had also tried to get himself admitted in a government hospital, but said the facilities were ‘not upto the mark’.

Hakim, who was part of India’s 1960 Rome Olympic football team that finished sixth, told that despite dedicating his entire life to the sport, he has not received any help from the government.

“I tested positive a couple of days back after breathing problems, and was taken to a government facility where things were not upto the mark. In the military hospital, no bed was available. My nephew lodged me in a private hotel here in Hyderabad and I am feeling better now,” Hakim said.

“I have not received any help from any corner as of now. My sister from America is taking care of my medical expenses. It is upto the government of India that they should take care of at least their Olympians,” he said.

The former footballer said he had no pension to draw on.

“I am the only football olympian surviving in India. I have been the national coach and sports administrator. I had written to the sports minister saying that all football Olympians are dying one after another and the government is not taking care of them properly.

“The cricket board takes care of its old cricketers, why can’t government reach out to us? At least some pension to the families and medical expenses should be provided to us,” Hakim said.

Hakeem was the second footballer to win the prestigious Dhyan Chand Award for Life Time Achievement in Sports and Games in 2017. He has also served as the Chief Project Director at Sports Authority of India (SAI) for a decade.

In a career spanning nearly 25 years, Hakeem started refereeing in 1970 and successfully officiated in 33 international games till 1989, including the 1988 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar.

Hakim is the son of legendary football coach Syed Abdul Rahim, regarded as the pioneer of modern football in India. Under Rahim, the country won gold medals at the Asian Games in 1951 and 1962.

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