Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-
Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-

Ahram Weekly

Captain Al-Saharti’s last goodbye

Basketball teams Zamalek and the Armenian Homenetmen Ararat lost their “real gentleman” coach. Nora Koloyan-Keuhnelian bid farewell

Ahmad
Ahmad
Al-Ahram Weekly

“Rest in peace Captain Saharti. My second father died today.”
“Captain Saharti will stay in my heart forever.”


“You not only shared our happiness and laughed with us in our happy
and good times and occasions. You also shared our sorrows and cried
with us in our difficult times.”


“On behalf of HMEM Nubar basketball team I would like to express our
condolences to his family and all our brothers in Ararat team.”


These were some of the words of many which eulogised basketball coach
Ahmed Al-Saharti who died last week at age 62. Al-Saharti was in
charge of the Armenian Homenetmen Ararat basketball men’s team since
2010, and was also its head from 2004 to 2008.


Al-Saharti, an ex basketball player himself, had just last month taken
over as head of the basketball youth sector in Zamalek. Before that he
was Zamalek’s first team basketball trainer.


Al-Saharti’s fans updated their statuses on their Facebook page just a
few minutes after the news of his death spread, especially in the
Armenian community. They were expressing their sorrow for the big loss they
had suffered with the sudden passing away of a “real gentleman”.


The community’s basketball fans were the first to break the news, even
before the club that was dear to Al-Saharti’s heart, Zamalek. The
community was busy with a tournament that started the day he passed
away, the day they saw him last.


Al-Saharti died on Friday 16 November during the 2012 Pan-Armenian
Egyptian basketball tournament in Homenetmen Ararat Club. He had left
after his Ararat won 79-51. “He had to go to Geish Club to supervise
the Zamalek-Gezira under-18 basketball game,” said an Ararat player
who was very close to Al-Saharti.


“We parked the car and were heading to the stadium on foot when
suddenly Captain Al-Saharti fainted. We took him to the nearest
hospital accompanied by a doctor, but unfortunately couldn’t save his
life as he went into a diabetic coma that led to a drop in blood
pressure”.


The sad news spread fast and the tournament was postponed indefinitely
(the next and last Pan Egyptian-Armenian basketball tournament in the
2012 season is to be organised by St Therese club on 29 November).


“The sudden death of Captain Al-Saharti left us in a state of shock”
said a member of Ararat Club’s organising committee.


This reporter remembered one day when her son came home from
basketball training, happily waving a brand new LE5 banknote, given to
him and his teammates by Al-Saharti on the occasion of the Bairam
Feast.


Al-Saharti was one of a kind. He used to respect and love children and
adults alike, and the feeling was mutual. Many times he played the
role of mediator in solving problems that faced Zamalek’s management,
sometimes assisting in appointing employees who would work for the
club without a contract.


Whenever Al-Saharti realised that the opposing team was weak, he never
flexed his muscles and never won by a big difference in points, always
respecting the opposition. He was that kind. According to his
colleagues, he worked for a long time without getting paid yet never
complained. His patience would rub off on other coaches he worked with
in Zamalek.


“Al-Saharti started playing basketball when he was a child,” head of
the under-12 basketball team in Zamalek, Sayed Abul-Dahab, who
introduced the young prodigy to the club, told  Al-Ahram Weekly.


Al-Saharti took part in several international championships, including
the Olympic Games in Munich (1972) and Montreal (1976), the African
Championships in Alexandria (1970, 1975), Senegal (1972) and Nigeria
(1973). In 1973 he was chosen the best basketball player in Africa.


Al-Saharti took part in European and African championships in Spain,
the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland, Ghana, Central Africa and Egypt.
He was captain of the Egyptian national basketball team from 1969 to
1979.


Al-Saharti travelled with his team to Lebanon (2004) and Greece (2005)
to take part in the Pan-Homenetmen games. Homenetmen Ararat won 14
cups in the years he coached them.


Al-Saharti stopped playing professionally at the age of just 29.
Ahmed Abdel-Hamid Al-Saharti was born in Cairo in August 1950. He was
married and is survived by three children, Mohamed, Haitham and Dina,
and two grandchildren. Haitham and Mohamed are basketball players on
Zamalek’s first team.


“We will be missing a generous, lovable, kind hearted and professional
trainer and player too,” said Abul-Dahab, his lifetime friend and
brother-in-law.

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