Iraqi head coach Ammo Baba was buried at the Al-Asyad Memorial near Al-Shaab International Stadium following a large-scale state funeral. A number of Iraqi members of parliament and officials, sport personalities, and a large crowd of citizens attended the funeral.
Iraqi honor guards carry the coffin of coach Ammo Baba during the funeral procession in Baghdad
Vice President Adil Abd Al-Mahdi, Lieutenant General Aboud Qanbar, Commander of Baghdad Operations, and Major General Qassim Atta, spokesman for the Imposing the Law Plan were among mourners
Members of Iraqi National Team carry a photo of the late coach Ammo Baba
Vice President Adil Abd Al-Mahdi
Iraqi youngsters whom coach Baba trained recently at his football school participated in the funeral ceremony
Vice President Adil Abd Al-Mahdi, Lieutenant General Aboud Qanbar, Commander of Baghdad Operations, and Major General Qassim Atta, spokesman for the Imposing the Law Plan were among mourners.
At the funeral, Abd Al-Mahdi said, “On behalf of the president and myself, I extend our condolences to the family of Ammo Baba, who proudly represented Iraq at international events. He accomplished significant athletic achievements over the span of half a century as a player, coach, teacher, brother, and father.”
He added, “The Iraqi people will not forget Ammo Baba since he gave Iraq what many others did not.” He continued by saying, “Ammo Baba did not ask for money. Instead, he asked for enhancements in achievements, morals, and education.” Abd Al-Mahdi called for the continuous support of Baba’s school, “since it is the great monument he left for us.”
Previously, the Prime Minister’s office approved the suggestion of the Ministry of Youth and Sport and the Iraqi Football Federation to bury Ammo Baba at the Al-Asyad Memorial near Al-Shaab International Stadium after the funeral. Baba’s official funeral was held at Al-Shaab International Stadium, which witnessed his most memorable games and goals.
Coach Ammo Baba died at the age of 75 following a bitter battle with a chronic disease in the governorate of Duhok. His body was transported to Baghdad on an Iraqi military aircraft on May 28, 2009.
Ahmad Radhi, a representative in the Iraqi Parliament and a former football star, cried profusely as he remembered Ammo Baba, who supervised his training for many years. He said, “He made us become men and stars,” and added, “He was hard on us to make us give our best.”
Radhi continued, “The best thing we can do to immortalize his memory is to name the football school after him.” He also called for erecting a statue for Baba in front of the Al-Shaab International Stadium.
Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki approved the burial of Ammo Baba near one of entrances of the Al-Shaab International Stadium. Prior to the arrival of the body to the stadium, a memorial service was held at a church in the Iraqi capital. Issam Al-Diwan, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sport, a number of members of Parliament, and relatives of the deceased attended the service.
A number of boys, whom Baba recently trained at his football school, cried near the funeral and burial sites. To commemorate his memory, they wore their full athletic uniforms and carried signs showing two phrases, “Ammo Baba: Mesopotamia’s Third Great River” and “Goodbye to our Teacher, the Head of All Coaches.”
It is noteworthy that Ammo Baba’s real name is Emmanuel Dawoud. He was born in 1934 and grew up in the city of Al-Habaniya in western Iraq.
Ammo Baba started his athletic journey on the field of the Military Academy in Baghdad. His first athletic experience was not related to football. He was Iraq’s champion in the 400 meter hurdles (track and field), and Al-Rasafa tennis champion.
Ismael Mohammed, a famous coach and sports commentators, was the first person to discover Baba’s football talent during the 1950 Iraqi Schools Football Championship. Mohammed gave him the name Ammo Baba. When Mohammed fielded Baba in his first game against Egypt in 1951, he said, “Ammo Baba is going to be a star.”
Ammo Baba led the Iraqi national team in 123 international and friendly matches and achieved many accomplishments. These include the gold medal in the 1982 Asian games in India, and three Arabian Gulf championships. He scored Iraq’s first International goal in 1957 in a game against Morocco during the second Arab Cup tournament.
Following retirement, Baba assumed the responsibility of training the Iraqi national team in 1979. In the same year, the team won the Arabian Gulf Cup tournament.
He led the Iraqi national team to the Arabian Gulf Cup championship in 1979, 1982, and 1984. Under his leadership, the team reached the Olympic Games’ finals three times in 1980, 1984, and 1988, and won the Arab Cup championship and the Asian Games gold medal.
Baba supervised the Iraqi Football Federation’s Football School. He continued to coach young players at the school, which he personally established to train young talents to become national team players.