Hyderabad: Mere mention of State Bank of India (SBI) would bring excitement among young aspirants in 60s till late 90s. For any sports person it was a massive boost to their careers for playing and getting employed in SBI. That was the aura that SBI had in the past. It was regarded as a perfect launching pad for any talented sports person those days.
K Nityanand, who was instrumental in making SBI as a sports oriented bank in 80s and 90s, said some of the best sports persons in major disciplines from the city were recruited in the bank. “We had a galaxy of super stars, be it in cricket, basketball, volleyball, football, kabaddi or badminton in the SBI team. With a view to encourage the sportsman to participate in the international championship we were able to provide financial assistance to the teams and players. It was during this phase when SBI not only won all the local tournaments but some outside the State,’’ said Nityanand, who helped in recruiting 59 players in various disciplines during his tenure.
It was in the 60s, the bank began the policy of taking sports persons and by 80’s SBI was the most sought after window. The likes of D Govindraj, P Krishnamurthy, Abdul Azeem, Mohd Azharuddin, donned the SBI cricket team. Azeem said he was lucky to have played in a team like SBI. “SBI was one of the top teams in the local tournaments along with Andhra Bank and Syndicate Bank. Playing for SBI was a big honour and we had the honour to play in many all India tournaments in Lucknow, Goa, Chennai and many other places. The bank was always there to encourage the sports persons. Sadly that has all stopped since many years,’’ said Azeem.
Nityanand, who was secretary of the Welfare Committee, partly blamed the various associations for this state of affairs. “In the past we had many tournaments and SBI won many of them. The infighting in the associations led to dwindling of tournaments. The recruitment stopped by 2009 and this closed the window for many young sportspersons,’’ he said.
Azharuddin was perhaps the biggest catch by SBI. He was a superstar for the SBI team. “He got three promotions and once when he was planning to quit, we managed to keep him in the bank.’’
Mohammed Rizwan, the former Indian basketball captain, said SBI was a dominant force in local tournaments. “SBI was easily one of the pioneers of promotion of sports in the city. As a young sports person everyone looked towards the SBI window. It guaranteed job security and also got a good opportunity to play in the tournaments. That was the charm of SBI then,’’ said Rizwan.
Former International P Manoj Kumar said the word SBI always brought a sense of security among sportspersons. “It was nice to see so many players from SBI to play and represent the state and the country. In the 80s Azharuddin was one of the big stars of the bank.’’
Surely, SBI was once a force to reckon with in sports.
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