There is an old saying. You cannot keep a good man down. In this case we had two brothers whose contribution to local football cannot be understated.

Kalim, 45 and Azeem Hafeji, 39, have been turning out in local football in Blackburn for over two decades. Kalim, who began playing in leagues aged 16, became the one of the best local amateur defenders around and the other, Azeem, fulfilled that defensive midfielder role nobody wanted.

These were both positions, especially within Asian run sides which traditionally tended to be for those players who said to be ‘less skilful’. Everyone else wanted to play the more glorious roles.

The opposite was true here. The brothers brought with them skill, passion, and a great deal of energy. Kalim himself began as a right midfielder and played in the position when needed too.

Together, they became a fearsome force and whilst the personalities may seem to clash at times, on the pitch it was a different story.

If you somehow managed to get past one there was another standing in his way. If you managed to skip through him it is likely the other brother had managed to get himself back up and throw in another tackle. And, so, it continued.

It was this combination that helped Blackburn United clinch the North West football title in 2006. It was a tournament of six teams then and a league format decided who would finish top.

A year earlier both brothers had starred in the UK National Asian Football Championships with the final played at Celtic Park. Blackburn United lost on penalties that day and it is still the closest any side from the region has come to winning that elusive title.

Asian Image:

Pictured above in one of their many cup wins. 

Asian Image:

Pictured here in 2015

The brothers would continue to play Saturdays for their respective clubs and also AMT Lawyers in the Blackburn Sunday League. Who they played for didn’t matter but as a manager if you were fortunate to get both in your team you should have counted yourself very lucky.

It was that team that would clinch the 2015 Football Championships overcoming both the then unbeaten Halifax Hammers and Coppice United on route.

Asian Image:

In 2023, the wise old head of Kalim was still on the side lines helping to guide a new Blackburn side to victory.

Azeem meanwhile proved to be class apart as in the semi-final and final, doing what he did best – holding on to slender leads for his side by ‘any means necessary’.

Is it time to bow out. We wouldn't think so.

Despite the awards, the wins and the accolades the brothers have received over the years few will note the most important thing for any amateur side.

It is the commitment to turn out week in week out whatever the weather, whatever the circumstances and whatever the opposition. A lesson that is still very hard to learn.