Kanu Rathod: Cricket, hockey cherishes Uhuru@ 61

BORN in 1951 at what he called a unique place in Zanzibar, cricket and hockey legend Kanu (Kanti) Rathod describes how he feels blessed and lucky to be originated from the Isles.

The England-based multisport veteran, who was recently in the country after 47 years, expresses his delight to God after his blessed comeback to Tanzanian soil again.

He is back safe and sound especially after he went in coma for four days in 2016, no one thought he would be alive today.

“Zanzibar and Tanzania have been blessed with successful sports personalities because of availability of talented and hardworking people,” he said.

Rathod was among the Tanzanian cricket legends living abroad who arrived in the country for Patel Brotherhood Patel Samaj (PBPS) Cricket Festival held in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar in October and November this year.

In an exclusive interview recently he said it is a good and memorable moment to be in Tanzania.

“When I heard cricket reunion plan to come to Tanzania, my heart suddenly changed and all the love from Tanzanian people started  and talking Swahili, I refreshed my memory  and started to look for  ‘maandazi’ and other local cuisines for my house.

“Tanzania remained a very special place for me.”

He said because of the advantage of technology, he tried to get other sports veterans through social media and started a WhatsApp group.

“I told them most of us have migrated from Tanzania about fifty to sixty years ago and never met each other, therefore that was the first step. Let us get together in Tanzania and have the reunion and rest, we will explore later on,” he explained.

“We came down here as Tanzanians, we had good reception here even the ‘Daily News’ had a lot of coverage for us, which is very encouraging and we are really thankful for what they have done.”

He also compliments Patel Brotherhood, Upanga sports Club and Khalsa Sports club for good entertainment and they real appreciate for that.

Rathod added: “I think the first mission has been accomplished and the idea now is to look for the next level in the second phase.

“This idea which I talked about is for the veterans to explore how they can help the new generation in Tanzanian sports, business and education as they may need guidance.”

Rathod, the former Shangani Secondary School student, cherishes the moment to meet his good friend Ahmed Himid in Zanzibar where they used to play hockey and cricket together.

“When I heard he is retired and is teaching religion in some schools, I got some zawadi (rewards) which among them is educational books and the children were really happy.

“I appeal for fellow sports legends living abroad to come together and help Tanzania, the good thing are that Tanzanian people have got the ability and they can go further as they only need a little push,” he added.

Rathod, a fielder and batsman, also remembers his first interview with the ‘Daily News’ when  he was playing a lot of hockey and cricket, said  he was covered by the ‘Daily News’ correspondent John de Silva in 1966 and he has kept the cutting till todate.

He noted de Silva also encouraged him to play cricket and he joined the Kinondoni-based  club in 1972  and within a year he got the first national team call-up and represented the country at East African Quadrangular Cricket tournament against Zambia in Lusaka. They  also toured Nigeria.

He said Zanzibar has produced a lot of good sportsmen and women whether in cricket, hockey or soccer and they had a good record in Tanzania as one nation.

“We were always there for Tanzania.”

Rathod said the Zanzibar trip in October this year was fruitful and had met Zanzibar Cricket Association and also received a letter from the government.

“I and Tarlochan Sandhu and others have got experience on how to promote sports as we are always there to help.”

Rathod started playing cricket at the age of 10 at Mnazi Mmoja Zanzibar using tennis balls.

“My elder brothers used to play varieties of sports and they inspired me to take the sport too and they also told me to play hockey.

That was 1962 when I was ten years old.

“I went on to play semi-professional cricket in England with big names from West Indies and England, I played in the Birmingham League too.”

Rathod said he has been captain of every sport discipline he played from the tender age to the senior levels.

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