Lakshmi Kothaneth –
Is there anything called retirement? Not so, I have concluded after I met SAS Naqvi for an interview. The Indian legendary hockey player has a list of achievements but what is striking is that he is the first hockey coach of Oman.
He is 87 today and hockey continues to be his passion. Ask him about the members of the first official Oman Hockey Team and he lists them out instantly with the description of each player’s special talent.
He arrived in Oman in 1982 to start coaching and in the same year, the team was at the Asian Games in New Delhi. “It was a miracle,” he says. “Players of Oman are meant for hockey – they have the strength and are agile.” When he describes those moments of victory, the listener goes through the same excitement even though it is being narrated after two decades.
For Syed Ali Sibtain al Naqvi, it is five Asian Games and five Olympics and a whole lot of awards and certificates. His career began with football but a knee injury urged him to move toward hockey, in which he thrived. He has played with the legends of hockey.
He has been a sports journalist and a radio sports commentator. But he is at his best when he is on the field, be it coaching or umpiring. The coach plans the play and the team follows.
Once again, it makes one wonder why not many sports stars carry on in the same field.
Recently, I came across a health expert from Oman who told me about eight doctors resigned from the medical field after 20 years because they could not handle the stress of meeting with people who are not in the best of moods day in and out.
On the other hand, patients do not often think of the doctors and other health care providers’ ordeals.
In any profession, it is the passion that makes a person carry on in the same field. The explorers continue to find new reasons and paths to explore. The adventurers thrive on the adrenaline rush. Some writers bring out their best when chasing the deadline. But one wonders if there would be signs of tears and wears after a while.
Life is an evolution so we must all go through the ageing process. But for the ones thriving in their chosen path there is absolutely no time to wait and figure out what ageing is all about.
As for Uncle Naqvi, the hockey ace, it is about the next hockey tournament and new projects that are coming up in the country because he is part of them some way or the other.
Sit with him and listen, there are stories he narrates that are historical and social. Photos of him with the personalities of the decades and (he being the legend in his own right) adorn the walls. We get glimpses of what he has been part of – more than seven decades of a journey in sports.
He feels schools should make hockey compulsory because hockey is one of the oldest sports practised in Oman. “After all, hockey was played in Oman in the 40s,” said Uncle Naqvi.
He looks back a bit sadly when he says hockey has changed over the years and describes it has become powerful and fast but has lost its artistic nature. “The hockey bat is not wood anymore and the ball is not made of leather anymore and the ground is different as well all. This brings in the changes in the way hockey is played today,” he said.
It is the same passion that can be seen when you speak to Dr Wahid al Kharousi, who moved away from orthopaedics to road safety and to foreign affairs, and back to health affairs in full swing with the Oman Cancer Association. And here he is with the OCA team conducting the Workshop on Spiritual Therapy.
The expertise grows and opportunities to provide your knowledge and service continue to come your way. I suppose that is what they call as being in tune with the universe. Here, they are catching up with the latest trends and serving society. It is not about changing the career path, but it is all about being able to be in the flow.
When you are in tune, there is absolutely no way to think about retirement.