For The Green
year old Siddique has overcome all odds in open Amateur Golf
becoming the reigning Champion, three tournaments in a row.
He is the first Bangladeshi ever to win in the All-India Amateur
Golf Championship tournament, considered to be the second
oldest tournament in golf.
next time you are in a field and you hear someone shouting
'fore'-- duck! It may be something to rejoice about in cricket
but in the realm of golf, it means that someone's golf-ball
is heading your way.
countries, the popularity of golf has skyrocketed in recent
years. In Bangladesh, golf has yet to find a passionate audience
that football and cricket have and is still a very exclusive
sport. This may partly be due to its lack of accessibility
and the fact that it does not have the broad visibility for
the audience that other sports have. Another thing is that
the spectators have to do a lot of 'walking' from course to
course, while most of us prefer to stay at home and make our
way from course to course at the luncheon table to gobble
up whatever comes our way. However, among a small elite group
of people its popularity is on the incline and a rare few
are even making headlines. One such budding golfer is Mohammad
Rahman has changed his stars and is now playing his dreams,
but life was not always like this. He joined the golfing world
as a ball boy at the Kurmitola Golf Club (KGC) in Cantonment.
"We could play golf on the course once a week on Monday.
And I developed an addiction for this game," says Rahman.
"We had a tournament for the junior players around the
year 1996." The participants were usually the children
of the club members and some other people from the club. "I
took part in that tournament and came second." He continued
the sport because he knew that his dream to excel in this
field was never a misplaced one.
break came in 1999 when a few boys from Kurmitola Golf Club
were placed on the national team to play in Pakistan. There
was stiff competition and only three candidates out of more
than 40 were chosen. Among the lucky three was Siddiqur Rahman.
"My first tournament was on October 14, 1999 in Lahore,
Pakistan," says a sparkling eyed Rahman. "The Lahore
Gymkhana Golf Club invited us to represent Bangladesh,"
he adds. Out of the three Bangladeshi amateurs to compete
in that tournament, Rahman performed the best. "I felt
really good after that game. It gave me an idea how people
played at the international level, I was pretty confident
that I would improve in the future," he recalls. But
playing in tournaments, national or otherwise, requires financial
solvency not only because of the expensive equipment involved
but also because of the time and dedication required. All
the costs that the team had to bear abroad were being taken
care of by the Bangladesh Golf Federation and they continue
to back these promising youngsters.
has had a number of accolades and his trophies include the
Champion trophy of the 2001 Bangladesh Open Amateur Tournament
sponsored by Partex, becoming the first Bangladeshi to clinch
the title. He won in Bangladesh again at the Bangladesh Amateur
Tournament in the beginning of 2005, after having been the
runner-up the two previous years. In 2003, he became the runner-up
at the SAARC Golf Tournament, after having clinched two championship
trophies in 2002 and 2003 in the Dutch-Bangla Pro-Am Championship.
booties include the Nepal Amateur Open 2003 in May, again
becoming the first Bangladeshi to win such a tournament. For
Rahman, it is a victory that he had long been waiting to claim.
The year 2004 found Rahman back in Nepal as the defending
champion in the Nepal Amateur Golf Championship as he had
won the title here last year. Here again, he overcame all
odds and went on to become the champion, beating formidable
opponents from many other nations. The tournament will take
place again in December 2005, and Rahman is confident that
he will be able to complete his hat-trick.
Nepal, Rahman teed off in the Bangladesh Amateur Golf Championship
2004. The tournament had been postponed until 2005 because
of the tsunami. Rahman, still basking in the joy of his victory
in Nepal, became the champion again.
latest trophy on his mantelpiece is from India. This March,
Rahman beat India's AS Lehal 3 and 2 in a 36-hole affair in
the Eveready 104 All-India Amateur Golf Championship. The
event was the grand finale of the Royal Challenge Indian Golf
Tour's 2004-05 season. The win was sweet revenge for Rahman
as he had lost to Lehal in the second round of the All-Indian
Amateur Championship in 2003. There were 128 participants
in the tournaments from six nations. Rahman managed to keep
his cool and his swing right, and in the end, became the first
Bangladeshi ever to win in this tournament, considered to
be the second oldest tournament in golf.
made history by becoming the first amateur to win a golf tournament
outside of Bangladesh. This is also the first time ever that
someone at amateur level has won three such events, including
the Nepal Amateur and Bangladesh Amateur, back to back. In
his most recent game in Sri Lanka, Rahman has suffered a rather
bad spin and came in sixth. "If I had studied the course
a little more, I would have done much better," he explains.
feels obliged to Bangladesh Golf Federation and Kurmitola
Golf Club. "They have given me a lot of support,"
he says. "Kurmitola have now made me a special member
and I can drop in for practice whenever I want."
psychological backing is a big factor, in the international
circle, money is the driving force. "My current sponsor
is Grameen Phone and they are paying me Tk.18,000 every month."
This may sound like a good deal, but the sponsorship expires
in October 2005 and then Rahman must start wondering again
about how to bear the costs of his passion.
enthusiasm for the game encouraged people to give a helping
hand. Initially, the Club offered some support and later other
sponsors chipped in after witnessing his expertise and dedication.
Among his sponsors were Square and club members like Syed
Iqbal Azim, a businessman and KGC member. To this day, Azim
is still paying Rahman a fee every month. The amount may seem
small but every bit helps and Rahman knows that he can always
go to Azim for assistance.
Rahman's sixth year running as an amateur golf player and
he has represented Bangladesh in India, Pakistan, Bhutan,
Sri Lanka, Nepal and Qatar. There are five players at the
amateur level and Bangladesh Golf Federation along with Kurmitola
Golf Club is giving them a lot of backing. But not everyone
has the ability to explore the international boundaries. "It
would be nice if I could attend golf matches outside of Asia.
It would give me a chance to compete on a whole new level,"
used to follow a trainer, Sada Hidayaki, from Japan, an interior
designer. He has some strict principles and I try my best
to abide by them. He guided the Amateur team and used to come
to the Club whenever he was free," he adds. At this time,
the Amateur squad has no coach but with someone like Hidayaki
at the helm, Bangladesh could go far.
Secretary of Bangladesh Golf Federation and the current Captain
of KGC, Manzoor Ahmed, is proud of Rahman's achievement. "Winning
the 104 All India Championship is like the national cricket
team winning the Ranji Trophy in India...even better. This
is the most important amateur golf championship in Asia and
only the best are selected to compete here," says Ahmed.
"Rahman has also made history in Asia by becoming the
first amateur to win three such championships in a row."
plans to go Professional next year in May, but that will only
be possible if he has the financial backing to follow. As
a player he shows calm under pressure and possesses abundant
talent. At 22, he is yet to reach his peak, but has achieved
much since his entry into this field at the tender age of
16. "I have completed my SSC and have also given my TOEFL
as I move in an international circle, and it makes communication
very important," he explains. He hopes to open his own
Golf School someday.
represents a rare breed of individuals who can beat the odds
no matter how intimidating and come out with flying colours.
Golf may not evoke much interest in his home country today
but Rahman's outstanding performance promises to put Bangladesh
on the international golfing scene.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005