Kenya’s proud cricketing fraternity remembers it’s own ‘Man for all Seasons’
BY STAR REPORTER/ The passing away of Jasmer Singh Grewal on September 21 at the age of 85, marked the end of a golden era of sports administrators who took over from the colonial administrators, at the time of Kenya’s independence and helped to catapult Kenya onto the world sporting arena.
From these elite brand of men, Jasmer stands out. He had played cricket at the national level before and after after independence, he had gone into sports administration again before and after independence and remained a respected sports personality right till his demise, nearly 53 years after independence.
He fought many a battle with the colonial minded sports administrators post independence but normally came out on top as Jasmer was not a man to be cowed easily. His battles were always for the benefit of the sport and the men and women who played it, be it cricket, hockey or football. It was never about himself.
He rose beyond the boundaries of race, even when sport was segregated and he won the respect of all.
Jasmer was always in charge of whatever he was doing and managed to avoid controversy all his life. An incredible feat considering he spent 50 years in sports administration.
Jackie Janmohamed, the current occupier of Cricket Kenya’s top seat kept caught the essence of the man in her message.
“The late Jasmer was one person who knew how to move mountains in cricket when things seemed lost and has made a great contribution to Kenyan cricket.”
Jimmy Rayani and Sharad Ghai who both chaired Cricket Kenya’s predecessor Kenya Cricket Association at different times remember Jasmer in equal measure.
“Jasper straddled the cricket scene and history in Kenya and overseas as a player, administrator, writer, and leader for over five decades.
“The cricket fraternity and I mourn the passing away of this great man,” Rayani said.
Ghai noted:”He was the pioneer of cricket. He lived and breathed cricket. I looked up to him from when I was a young man. He is a doyen of cricket.”
Jasmer’s indomitable spirit and will to succeed helped to shape the lives of many people.
Zulfiqar Ali. who went on to become probably the greatest all round cricketer East Africa has produced, said: “It is Jasmer who got me started. He used to write for the Sunday Post (a weekly newspaper at the time) and really pushed for my selection to the national team.
“Once selected, he let me know in no uncertain terms that I could not let him down! If it were not for Jasmer I would not have played for Kenya”.
Avtar Sohal, who had the distinction of playing hockey at five Olympic Games, said: “Jasmer was a towering figure for all of us. You will not find another sports administrator who could inspire people like he did”.
Jasmer was also an accomplished journalist and broadcaster and an astute publisher/businessman. He took over the reins of a struggling Drum Publications from South African magnate Johm Bailey and turned it into the largest selling magazine in East Africa within a span of two years.
Drum remained Kenya’s leading magazine under his watch until the early 1990s when a decision was made to sell it.
People of the ilk of Jasmer do not just die and fade away, his life should act as a source of encouragement for future generations to follow.
Veteran cricket, player and administrator Jasmer Singh receiving a Soya Awards from Safaricom marketing director Rita Okuthe.