KARACHI: The death of former international hockey goalkeeper Qamar Riaz-ul-Haq after a long illness is a significant loss for the sports fraternity, particularly his YMCA friends’ circle. Whether it was men’s hockey, women’s hockey, or any other sporting event, he made an incredible contribution that elevated him to new heights.
The deceased is survived by two daughters and a son. He was the elder brother of former Olympian Qamar Zia. In 2015, his wife passed away.
Riaz, 74, was born in Chichawatni, Sahiwal District, and made his mark in 1965 when he was selected to the Pakistan squad for a tour to Indonesia, which was followed by a tour to East Africa. During the second leg of this tour, he faced Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, and during one of these games, his left knee was fractured, effectively ending his career.
Despite the fact that the then-Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) had his knee operated on, he was unable to return to the national team.
Riaz, who earned a B.Sc. (Hons) from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, earned varsity color as a goalkeeper due to his exceptional skills, as none of the other players were available. Qamar Zia, by the way, followed suit.
Riaz joined Customs (Appraisal) in 1974 and also played for the departmental hockey team in domestic competitions.
The deceased repaid the debt by serving as the honorary coach of the YMCA hockey club and, for a time, teaching the finer points of the game to the Habib Public School hockey team. It should be noted that the YMCA has produced goalkeeping legends such as Shahid Ali Khan, Mansoor Ahmed, Ahmed Alam, and Ejaz Khokhar.
For a time, Riaz was also the president of the Sindh Wrestling Association and the Karachi Tug of War Association.
He was also a social figure and philanthropist who quietly helped needy athletes and others. Among his YMCA circle members are Ustad Masroor, Abid Hussain, and Shabih Abbas, while his Customs circle includes former Olympian Khalid Mehmood, Ashraf Chaudry, and Waseeq Ahmed.
Riaz was confined to his home after his wife died of health complications, and he had become wheelchair-bound about two years ago. He later relocated to Lahore, where he died last Thursday.
Riaz will be remembered fondly for a long time. May Allah grant his soul eternal peace. Yes, Ameen.