Sport is a great equaliser and in particular golf. My favourite game in the world is both elitist and a great leveller. It’s a sport where the great and the humble might equally triumph through talent and hard work. It is where even a person like me, born and raised poor, can dream big and manage to actually realize them.
When I was very young, around ten years old, I used to have dreams of becoming a golfer. I began as a ball boy and then graduated to work as a caddy before becoming a touring professional. Today, with the grace of Allah, I’m an international coach, having recently returned home from the United States following a six-month stint in Michigan where the golfing season ended with the start of early winter late September. It was a successful trip during which I taught golfers of all ages and levels and played with some top class American coaches.
It was a great experience for me as the local newspapers and electronic media highlighted my teaching skills. Most of them thought that since I made a career in golf I must have been a rich man in Pakistan. But when I told them that I hailed from a very modest background they would be full of appreciation. Some of them even asked me to autograph their caps. Last month, I was really humbled when one of my American students told me that he has named his son after me. He told me that he was a bit reluctant initially since there was ‘bad’ in Badshah but after checking its meaning on the internet and finding out that ‘Badshah’ meant king he went for it.
You might think that I’m on a mission of self-praise. But I’m only building my case. My point is that when an ordinary Pakistani like me, hailing from a poor family, can garner appreciation and respect then why is that people like me remain outcast in our society.
To be honest I don’t like the idea of living in a foreign land to earn my bread and butter. In spite of all the good people and everything, USA is foreign land for me. I’m a Pakistani and love to live in my beloved homeland and work for its betterment. I have dedicated my life for it both as a golfer and a coach. But in spite of all my efforts the truth is that in Pakistan I’m jobless. I have a family to take care of which is why I’m forced to spend my summers in the US. Personally, it my trips to America are quite beneficial for me as I make my living and also collect respect and admiration from my numerous students. But for me it would be more satisfying if there is some way I can contribute towards the development and promotion of Pakistan golf.
But unfortunately, there are two things that go against me. Firstly, as I mentioned earlier I was born and raised poor. To be poor in our society is perhaps the biggest misfortune. That’s precisely the reason why I remain an outcast in Pakistan golf in spite of the fact that I have spent 38 out of 48 years of my life serving golf in our country.
I might have succeeded despite being poor but there is another ‘quality’ that I lack – ‘chamcha-geeri’. I can’t indulge in flattery and am in the habit of calling a spade a spade. Most people in our country, especially occupying powerful position, don’t like to be told the truth. They want you to appreciate them regardless of the fact that they are doing the wrong thing. At least I can’t do that.
But in spite of all this I remain upbeat. I know that things will change. I also know that being poor or being honest aren’t handicaps. I know that most successful sportsmen come from poor background. Look at the great champions of our country — Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan — who were poor but became legends.
I’m not Jahangir or Jansher but in my personal capacity as a qualified international coach, there is a lot I can do for Pakistan golf. And God willing, I’ll do it someday. My dream is to initiate full-fledged training programmes for juniors and underprivileged young caddies. The idea is begin with a pilot project in Karachi, where I’m based, and then expand it to other areas of Pakistan. It is going to be a long journey but we have to take baby steps without losing any more time. Pakistan is a country overflowing with sporting talent and golf is no exception. But unfortunately, over the years we have lost so many talented golfers because of a lack of interest from our golf authorities.
But instead of ruing the past we need to look towards the future. We need to begin by establishing a juniors’ golf tour on the pattern of the American tour which starts with four-year-olds who play inter-state and districts golf events. It might sound difficult but with hard work anything is possible.