Former India hockey captain and coach Zafar Iqbal on Wednesday reacted in his typical unassuming way to his getting Padma Shri in the Republic Day awards, saying that it was an honour to Indian hockey and the players.
Zafar, who captained the Indian team at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, was a member of the gold-medal winning team at the 1980 Moscow Games. An intrepid outside-left, he and Mohammad Shahid made an exciting pair of forwards.
"It is an honour for me personally, but I take it as a recognition of hockey in the country and its glorious history. I will be more happy if it can motivate many youngsters to take to the sport," Zafar told IANS.
Zafar, a qualified engineer from Aligarh and a senior executive with Air India, thanked all those who played with him at all levels and all others connected with the game.
He said he is grateful to his mother who had been a source inspiration for his playing hockey.
"I would not have been a hockey player but for my mother's constant prodding and encouragement when my father was keen that I should concentrate more on my studies. When I look back, both my parents pushed me to do well on both fronts."