Freedom fighter Sadeque Hossain Khoka was better known as politician and former mayor of an undivided Dhaka City Corporation.
However, he was also very popular as a sports organiser. Brothers Union was the outfit where he flourished with his sports organizing capacity, making the Gopibagh-based outfit the country’s third force to be reckoned with in football after Mohammedan SC and Abahani after taking charge as general secretary in 1975.
Khoka, who died of kidney cancer in the United States of America on Monday, was yesterday taken to his beloved outfit -- Brothers Union -- for a final homage with former and current Brothers’ players and organisers paying their last respects by covering the coffin with the club’s orange flag while a group of freedom fighters, led by Mozzamel Hossain Helal, gave a guard of honour by saluting Khoka, who was a member of the guerrilla operation under sector-2 during the liberation war.
Later, a few thousand people took part in his namaz-e-janaza at the club ground before he was buried in Jurain Graveyard.
Khoka was made chairman of the governing body of Brothers Union in 2003 and he played a key role in helping the side taste their maiden trophy in the now-defunct Dhaka Premier Football League in the 2003-04 season. They retained the prestigious title the following year in 2005.
The 67-year-old deceased organiser was also one of main architects behind the introduction of the country’s Pioneer Football League (1980), which produced numerous star footballers like Monem Munna, Rummon Bin Wali Sabbir, Samrat Hossain Emily, Imtiaz Ahmed Nakib, Jakir Hossain and many others. During his tenure as secretary of the Dhaka Metropolis Football Committee from 1977 to 1984, the then FIFA president João Havelange was the sport’s first world’s governing body chief to visit Bangladesh to inaugurate the Pioneer Football League. He was then the joint secretary of the Bangladesh Football Federation.
When the Bangladesh Football Federation struggled to stage the Pioneer Football League due to a lack of sponsors, Khoka came forward once again to revive the league by tagging Dhaka City Corporation as sponsor in 2003, when he was mayor of an undivided Dhaka City Corporation. The league continued till the last edition in 2017.
His love for sports made him the state minister for youth and sports in 1991 and he took the initiative to insert a sports policy, holding a mega gathering with the invitation of all stakeholders of sports though he could not finally complete his initiatives.
“He was a complete sports organiser, who I think was a great organiser among all. It was a big damage for country to lose an organiser like him,” said former national and Brothers Union’s striker Wasim Iqbal.