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October 8, 2017

A legend departs


October 8, 2017

It was school summer vacations of 1974 and I had nothing much to do except the dreary, laborious homework. My mind was more at basketball than the homework. I wanted to rush to the basketball ring, installed in our courtyard. I vividly remember a very gruff and loud voice at the main gate of our house, asking about my father.

I opened the door and saw two tall and lanky figures. The six foot four inch man introduced himself as Captain Rashid Ali Malik and his companion as Lieutenant Sadee. This was my first meeting with Rashid Malik, who I later watched turning into a champion basketball player under the coaching of my father, Major (Retd) Abdul Wahid Qureshi, who remained Rashid’s coach for 20 consecutive years.    

Rashid’s coach while remembering his early playing days said that he was introduced to him in late fifties by his father as a talented basketball player when he was a student in Cadet College Hasan Abdal. His coach at the college was a former basketball player from CTI College, Sialkot. He had done little to develop the defensive skills of Rashid, said Major Qureshi.

Rashid’s demise brought tears to his coach’s eyes who lives in Lahore at the age of 93 and remembers the golden days of sports in the country.

Rashid was the pillar of Pakistan and Army basketball teams. He was the highest scorer in Asian basketball Championships in Singapore and Nagoya Japan in 1981, said the coach.

As a human being, he had great qualities of head and heart. Always loving and outgoing, he used to help everyone in need. He was commissioned in the elite Punjab Regiment of Pakistan Army that has produced a large number of national and international athletes.

Rashid was not just an outstanding sportsman, Vice President of POA, President of Pakistan Basketball Federation and Sindh Olympic Association, but he was also the President of Abdalian Alumni chapter of Karachi. He had recently got elected as President of World Association of Detectives.

As CEO and founder of SECURITY 2000, Brig Rashid established a flourishing business. Rashid earned 13 army medals for war and peacetime service, 20 gold medals at national level in sports and was also awarded Tamgha-e-Basalat and Sitara-e-Imtiaz. Rashid commanded two infantry brigades and commanded the Joint Services parade at Rawalpindi in 1987.

Rashid’s greatest asset was his ability to strike a balance between sports and military profession. He held the best of military appointments and his professional colleagues held him in very high esteem.

Former Director Military Sports Brig Iqtidar said that he developed interest in basketball after watching Brig Rashid play on the court.

I was very fortunate to witness this great athlete in action on several occasions. In many matches, national and international, he was closely guarded by defenders who tried to deny him the advantage under the basket. When paired up with lanky Jamsheed from Pakistan Army, Rashid was unstoppable under the basket. I saw many wonderful players like Majid and Tanveer of archrivals Habib Bank totally frustrated on seeing Rashid sneaking through the defenders to score a sure basket.

Brig Rashid will always be remembered in the history of Pakistan basketball as the greatest offensive player. Even in his last days, he fought with his brain tumor like a champion. On June 8, 2017, in one of his messages from London where he was under treatment, he wrote, “Morale is very high, the God continues to be on my side. He has not written me off... I will fight this lump... Finish it. I am convinced that attitude matters, family and friends’ prayers, hope all is good at home. Take Care. Rashid.”

With his untimely departure, the world of basketball has lost a prodigious player, Army an excellent professional soldier, his family a loving parent and we all a wonderful human being. May Allah rest the departed soul in heaven!

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