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Iraqi Footballer Sports Hero Laid to Rest
By Ray Yono :: Monday, June 8, 2009 :: 29607 Views :: 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.

Sacred Heart Parish, MI USA


Sacred Heart Parish
310 W. Seven Mile. Rd.
Detroit, MI 48203
Tel: (313) 368-6214
Fax: (313) 891-0132

The parish was established by Rev. Jacob Yasso in 1973

Rev. Jacob Yasso

Rev. Jacob Yasso was born in the village of Telkaif, Iraq.  After completing high school he was recruited to Rome and Urbaniana University where he completed his Masters Degree in philosophy and Theology.  Fr. Yasso was ordained a priest in 1960 and served the Diocese of Mosul, where he worked in the public school system. Fr. Yasso was also asked by the Patriarch to teach at the Patriarchal Seminary in Baghdad, where he served as administrator, professor of philosophy and religious life, and rector of the minor seminary. 

In 1964, Fr. Yasso was appointed to the United States to serve the growing Chaldean community in Detroit.  There he served as the 4th Pastor of Mother of God Parish.  .  In 1972, the Patriarch charged Fr. Yasso with building a new parish for the Chaldeans in Detroit.  In taking great pains to care for the community Fr. Yasso accelerated the development of a new church and community center.  In 1975, Fr. Yasso completed the development of Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit and shortly thereafter he added the Chaldean Center of America in 1980, 

A few years later in 1982, Fr. Yasso was asked to assist the late Fr. Kattoula at St. Peter’s Church in San Diego, CA.  Before long, Fr. Yasso was once again recruited to Rome to study new Canon Law of the Church.  While in Rome Fr. Yasso completed his third Masters Degree in Church Law, making him the only Chaldean priest trained in Canon Law. 

In 1988, the Patriarch and Vatican authorities asked Fr. Yasso to travel to Canada and establish a parish and community center.  While there he served as a Tribunal Judge for the Archdiocese of Toronto.  Four years later Fr. Yasso returned to Sacred Heart church in Detroit to help care for the remaining Chaldean community residence in the Detroit area.  To this day, Fr. Yasso continues to serve as the parish pastor creating activities and advising the City of Detroit on community related matters. 

Fr. Yasso is a member of the International WYCLIF Bible translators, since 1975, and has completed the translation of the New Testament from Greek and Aramaic into Arabic and spoken Chaldean.   The publication of his scholarly work is set to be released soon.