Really! The younger generations of Jordanian youth, who now fight over universal stars of soccer, have not lived until they have seen the Jordanian passion for football back in the eighties.
They do not know of the times when thousands of passionate Jordanians would amass at the Amman International Stadium to root for the National team or the Feisali FC. How would they?
Crowds upon crowds chanted his name, rocked the Stadium for years; he was, Khaled Awad.
The crowds called him ‘Zico’, after Brazil’s own soccer star at the time. And last night, the legend of Jordanian football, Khaled ‘Zico’ Awad passed away.
For years, Awad was dedicated to the Jordanian Football Association, overseeing the young talents.
The project was founded by Prince Ali, to look for and train young talented footballers, and Zico was charged with it, to give the younglings all the expertise and knowledge he had.
Notably, the legend had attained the highest global training degrees and certificates. Hence, he was the best fit for the job.
More so, despite the decades which have passed since Awad retired, the gap he left remained vacant, be it in the Feisali or the National Football team.
He had unique individual style and techniques, with an incredibly encompassing presence on the pitch.
He, along with Jamal Abu Abed, made an outstanding duet that was exceptional to the Jordanian football scene, next to the talents of their time, like Ibrahim Saadieh, Tawfiq Saheb, and others who still inspire Jordanian footballers.
The least we can do, for Awad, who spent his years in service of his country and his club, a legend of Jordanian football, to give him the farewell ceremony he deserves. Not only as an athlete, but as a symbol of our nation.
Awad was a soldier of inspiration, one of the country’s most influential soft forces. And his departure must be so vain as to simply gather some colleagues around to bid the legend farewell; No!
A legend of his magnitude deserves a fitting farewell. So does every writer, artist, thinker, and academic. Greatness is a national treasure, and the loss of such greatness is a national misfortune that is hardly ever compensated!
Similarly, football today is no longer exclusive to a certain segment or class in society.
It is no longer a cultural characteristic of one social group without the other. Soccer in Jordan is popularised, and it has taken a complex social, political, economic discourse to become an industry on its own; trademarks, FCs, scouts, recruiters.
Anyone who pays a little attention to the younger generations would notice how attached they are to sports, football in particular.
To invest in this could make a gapping difference on a massive scale, when it comes to safeguarding our youth from drugs and the turn to extremism.
Even now, as we address the ongoing debate on education and reformation, sports, football, and arts, are among the main interests of those in charge of reforming education. And it will soon be a part of the general assessment platform for students and student development programmes.
Accordingly, to reiterate the importance of an integrated educational system, governments must reconfigure their lenses when it comes to the questions of sports.
Sports and arts should prised among our top priorities, in terms of education, infrastructures, training, and preparations.
Meanwhile, football legend Zico, or Khaled Awad, deserves a national farewell ceremony. One which would sound our appreciation for what he has given us, and our pride in his talent and in him. He is no less any of the other global football stars.
More so, he remained loyal to his country and club, and gave everything he had to better himself and others.
This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.