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Iraqi Footballer Sports Hero Laid to Rest
By Ray Yono :: Monday, June 8, 2009 :: 48558 Views :: Article Rating :: Sports, Art, and Entertainment

Baghdad, IRAQ – Christan and Muslim Iraqis mourn the passing of one of their countryman’s sports heroes.  Emmanuel Baba Dawud, better known as Ammo Baba (Uncle Father).  He was known as the Arab world’s Pele, the “Sheikh of Iraqi coaches”, and a winged angel.  He scored the first ever international goal for Iraq against Morocco at the second Pan-Arab Games in Beirut in 1957 and coached the Iraqi national football team to various victories. 

Ammo Baba led Iraq to three titles in the Arabian Gulf football tournaments and the gold medal in the 1982 Asian Games in India. He was revered as a hero in his homeland.

Ammo Baba was born in Hinaidi, Baghdad during a time when Muslim and Christian relations were civil.  Dawud was a reluctant pupil at the base’s school. “I used to run out of school,” he recalled. “I was very lazy in my lessons, but I was very good at sports.”

So good that, for a time, he held the record as one of Iraq’s fastest 400-metre runners.

Hours spent watching British and Iraqi soldiers playing matches around the base and practicing with his “football”, a sock stuffed with strips of fabric, paid off.

Selected by Iraqi coach Ismail Mohammed, Dawud made his debut with the Iraqi schoolboys in the second Pan-Arab School Championship in Cairo in 1951. For the rest of the decade, he played for the Iraqi Air Force football team, consolidating a reputation as the best forward in the country.

During the ambitious pan-Arab movement, masterminded by Egypt’s Gamal Abdel-Nasser, he was one of two players selected from Iraq to take part in the Arab national team, which proved to be a short-lived exercise.

With regime change in Iraq in 1958, Dawud’s career became less certain, especially after his refusal to join the Baath party in 1964. He moved from club to club, and never quite recovered from a serious injury in 1965. In 1979, he was appointed coach of the Iraqi national team. It was a challenging position that necessitated dealings with the mercurial Uday Hussein, the president’s son and minister of sport, and Dawud was imprisoned on several occasions on spurious charges.

His later years were plagued by diabetes: two toes were amputated and he suffered increasingly from poor vision. Earlier this year, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

His wife and son had lived in exile for many years though Dawud himself seldom left Iraq. Latterly, he had devoted his time to developing a football school for underprivileged children in Baghdad.

Emmanuel Baba Dawud was born on Nov 27, 1934. He died on May 27.

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St. Thomas, MI USA

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church
6900 Maple Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: (248) 788-2460
Fax: (248) 788-2153

Founding Pastor:
Rev. Hanna Cheikho

Current Pastor:
Rev. Frank Kalabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes, Retired  


Rev. Frank Kalabat
 

Rev. Frank Kalabat was born in 1970 in San Diego, California and entered St. Francis Seminary of San Diego, California.  The admission to the Catholic seminary made him the first born U.S. Chaldean to enter an American seminary.  In 1992, Fr. Kalabat continued his studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.  In July 1995, shortly after graduation he was ordained as priest by His Excellency Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.  

Fr. Frank chose Mother of God Parish in Southfield, MI. as his first assignment serving the Chaldean community as an associate pastor for half a decade.  In 2001, Fr. Kalabat was elected to serve as Pastor of St. Tomas Parish in West Bloomfield, Michigan where he remains today.   

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1942. Upon graduation Fr. Abrahim was admitted to St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad, Iraq.  After a decade of studies and numerous degrees, Fr. Abrhim was ordained a priest in 1967.  He chose to continue ministering in Baghdad, Iraq.  There he was appointed the headmaster of the catechism at Mother of Sorrows Cathedral.  Fr. Abrahim also assisted St. Therese Church in Baghdad until 1978.  Afterward he was asked to assist St. Joseph Church in Baghdad and was appointed Parochial Vicar from 1978-1992. 

In 1992, Fr. Abrahim was called upon to assist the growing Chaldean population in Michigan.  Upon his arrival he was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Tory, Michigan.  Two years later Fr. Abrahim was asked to become the pastor of a Parish community in Windsor, Canada  where he remained the parish pastor until 2001.

Continuing demographic changes in Michigan required Fr. Abrahim to return to St. Joseph Parish in Tory as a Parochial Vicar, where he remained until 2006.  In 2006 he was elected to St. Thomas Parish as Parochial Vicar in West Bloomfield, MI. where he currently serves the Chaldean community.

 

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes

Rev. Emmanuel Rays was born in Araden, Iraq in 1930.  He studied at St. John Dominican Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.  The Chaldean catholic ambassador ministered in northern Iraq from 1954-1963, in Syria and Lebanon from 1963-1980, and in the United Stated from 1980 to the present day.
 
Form 1980-1983, he was appointed associate pastor at Mother of God Parish in Southfield, Michigan.  From 1983-1989 he served as pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  During the early 1990’s he ministered to the Chaldean community in Farmington Hills and was at St. Joseph Parish in Tory where he was Parochial Vicar until 2000.

Although Fr. Rayes retired in 2001, he remains active in serving the community.  He is the author of many articles in Arabic and is the editor-in-chief of the Al Mishal and Al-Tariq magazine.  He has translated and continues to translate many books from French and English into Arabic.