<%-- Page Title--%> Achievement <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 107 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

May 30, 2003

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Putting for Victory

Aasha Mehreen Amin

Golf as a sport may not have the mass appeal of cricket or football. In Bangladesh it may even be called a 'minority game'. But over the last few decades the game has developed into more than just an elitist pastime. More and more young Bangladeshis are taking up the sport seriously with the aim of going professional. For twenty-year old Mohammad Siddiqur Rahman, such a goal is more than a fantasy. It is almost at the point of becoming reality. His latest achievement is clinching the Nepal Amateur Open 2003 in May. This is the first time that any Bangladeshi has won the championship in a tournament abroad. For Siddique it is an accolade that he has struggled hard to claim.
Winning, however, has been a regular phenomenon for this exuberant young man who seems to have only one thing on his mind--the next tournament. He has won numerous trophies, he estimates at least 10, at tournaments at home and abroad. These include: the Runners Up at the SAARC golf tournament in 2003; the winner of the 2001 Bangladesh Open Amatuer and runners up in the next two years, the latest tournament having five countries participating with almost a hundred players; runners up in the Bangladesh National Games 2002 golf competition; and two times champion (2002 and 2003) in the Dutch Bangla Pro-Am championship.

Giving his best suing at the SAARC Golf Championship.

But becoming a golfer and an excellent one at that, has been a great challenge for Siddique, whose introduction to the golf course was through a small time job as a ball boy at the Kurmitola Golf Club(KGC) in Dhaka Cantonment. His father at the time worked as a chauffer. “When I saw my senior brothers playing, I was extremely drawn to the game,” says Siddique, “Sometimes I would even bunk school to play a few holes. Later when I started working as a ball-boy I learnt the game properly.” The would-be golfer was only ten years old at the time.
Siddique seriously started playing the game in 1999. The Club was promoting a few ball-boys as players on the national team to play tournaments abroad. Out of 40 to 50 candidates, three were chosen including Siddique. That same year the bright-eyed Siddique went, as part of the national team, to Pakistan to play at the Lahore Gymkhana Nomura Cup. He got the best score among his team members. The Club authorities were very pleased with his performance and people started to take notice of the gangly 16 year old who played the game with unashamed passion.
But playing a game that required expensive equipment and hours and hours of one's time, was a luxury Siddique could ill afford. While the Club supported him to a certain extent, he still needed a generous sponsor. At first, Square Pharmaceuticals began to sponsor him on the condition that he also worked at their office. Siddique, although grateful for the generosity, found that his concentration was swaying and his game suffered. Then 2001, in September Siddique was approached by a club member who had been watching his game for some time. Syed Iqbal Azim, a businessman and KGC member, decided to sponsor him. With the Club's support and a sponsor, Siddique has somehow managed to bear the costs of this expensive sport.

Interestingly at the Nepal tournament, Siddique bore most of the expenses apart from some funds from his sponsor and the hospitality of a foreign friend, a golfer who paid for his accommodation. This was because he went as an independent player as he was already part of the national team that went to India. Siddique was in India when the Nepal going team was formed.
Siddique, who never got to continue his education beyond matriculation, much to his mother's dismay, spends at least eight hours practicing at the golf club. For him this is both work and passion.

Receiving the winner's trophy at the Nepal Amateur Open.

After a lot of prodding, however, Siddique admits that being a golfer is not easy for a man of modest means. He still cannot afford to have his own caddy and carries his golf clubs set himself even during tournaments. The other team members are also former ball boys and face similar constraints. Their counterparts in neighbouring countries receive huge financial support from independent sponsors. “These young, promising Bangladeshi golfers who have the potential to make their country proud abroad, need a lot more support, more opportunities to practice, train and participate in international event” says a long time member of the club.
Siddique's dream is to become a professional golfer. He is planning to go to India to pass the qualifying tests which will make him eligible to play in the Asian Circuit. In the meantime Siddique will be doing what he likes to do best: putting in the green.


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