Hall of Fame - Tennis
was born in 1933 in Mosul, Iraq to Daniel Orahim and Parru Barkhu. He spent
his childhood in Gailani Camp, Baghdad his early boyhood in Maharatha Lines,
Hinaidi, and his adolescence and early manhood in Habbaniya. Both Hinaidi and
Habbaniya were Royal Air Force bases in Iraq.
William began his schooling at Raabi Espania's school at Maharatha Lines and
completed his primary education at Raabi Yacoub's school in Habbaniya. In
1949, at 16 years of age, he obtained a job with the Air Ministry Works
Directorate (AMWD) as a junior clerk then gradually worked his way up to chief
clerk during a stretch of only seven years.
William Daniel participated in various sports at school in Habbaniya, but
played in earnest in his early teens. He played not only tennis and hockey but
also soccer and table tennis. Also, he took part in track and field games,
excelling in high jump. He was a good singer and dancer, too.
In his teenage years, Williams showed a promising talent in soccer, but an
accident nipped it in the bud! In a cup final between the Assyrian Employees
and AMWD Club teams, William, playing on the wing for AMWD, dribbled past a
couple of opposing players and scored. But not before a tackling defender had
kicked him in the face, opening an eight-stitch gash under his eye! After
that, his father, a strict man, absolutely forbade him to play soccer again!
1948, noticing William's apparent talent for tennis, a Squadron Leader Dymock
and a Wing Commander Gullan of the R.A.F. had offered to take him to England
for proper training and coaching at their own expense. But protective of his
young son, his father had declined the offer.
his peak years in tennis, William's fame spread beyond the perimeter of
Habbaniya. He, along with Andrew Simon, were once offered secure, well-paying
positions and family accommodation at "staff" level by the Basra
Port Authority if only they would play tennis for their club. They accepted
the offer at an interview in Basra, but changed their minds on returning to
Habbaniya! Once, two groups of Habbaniya sports enthusiasts debated whether
William Daniel or another renowned tennis player, in Baghdad, named Eramia
Youshia who was trained and coached by a Squadron Leader Freith at the YMCA
where Eramia's father worked, was the Assyrian champion.
settle the argument, a "grudge" match was arranged and played at
Habbaniya. William beat Eramia in three straight sets, gaining from Eramia
himself the admittance that he was "the best!"
1950, at the young age of 17 William Daniel married Mary, daughter of Odisho
Enviya and Rehanta Nona. The teenaged couple immediately started a family that
eventually grew into five sons and three daughters. All of their children
except their youngest, Zaia live in Sydney Australia.
Habbaniya, William and his partner Andrew Simon dominated the tennis court for
a decade in the 1940's and 1950's and were star players on the hockey field.
Between them, they picked off many of Habbaniya's Civil Cantonment and the
R.A.F. Station tennis championship trophies, and in Baghdad and elsewhere they
beat many top Iraqi and British, American, Lebanese, Indonesian, Egyptian and
other foreign players, crowning their victories with several national
championship titles. Partnered together, the pair won the Iraq Challenge
Championship cup for 1955 and 1956, and in partnership with Abbas Abid, one of
Iraq's brightest star players, William shared three consecutive national
championships in 1961-63.
December 1955, William Daniel left Habbaniya, with his family, and settled in
Baghdad, where he was offered a job as an assistant superintendent by KOC (Khanaquin
Oil Company). A few years later, KOC was absorbed by the Ministry of Oil in
the nationalization process; William worked for the Iraqi Oil Ministry for the
next 16 years.
had already joined the YMCA and the Alwiyah Club to play tennis, but the
Ministry required him and another top tennis-playing employee named Abbas Abid
to compete in a tennis game in the name of the Ministry. Accordingly, William
and his partner Andrew the played and won the Iraq Doubles Championship for
three years running (1961-63). The third year, they retained the rolling cup
and presented it, with their names engraved on it, to the Ministry, and the
Ministry, in turn, awarded each of them a gold watch!
in Baghdad, William and his friend and tennis partner Andrew Simon were
associated with the Assyrian Sports Club (Nadi Athori) and in whose name they won two
national doubles championships in 1955 and 1956. The two, along with a few
other Habbaniya Assyrians, also played some friendly hockey matches for the
club against the Iraqi Army and Air Force teams.
1962 William and Andrew, his tennis partner were selected, along with two
Arabs, to represent Iraq on a tennis tour to Egypt and Lebanon. But later,
Andrew and one of the two Arabs were dropped and William was partnered with
next year, William was again selected with two Arabs to make the three-player
team. But when William had insisted on having Andrew as his doubles partner,
he too was dropped from the team. It was said that the nation and the majority
in Iraq (Arabs) would not be represented by a majority of players of a
minority group (Assyrians) even if they were the best players!
the 1970's, the Assyrian exodus from Iraq intensified. In 1974 William and his
family departed to Beirut, Lebanon. After the usual wait, they eventually
immigrated, through a refugee agency, to Sydney, Australia.
1976 to 1981 William played tennis for the Blacktown District team, initially
a Grade 3 team on a scale of eight grades. But within the first year the team
played itself to Grade 1, and William gained the Captaincy of the team. Later
he was elected coach and managed the team and for which he also broke in two
other Assyrian players, namely Joseph Tamraz, and a former Habbaniya player
named Youkhanna Odisho.
the first six years, William worked as an export shipping supervisor for a
company called P.D.S. Co-op, and for 18 months as manager for Nineveh Club. He
then traveled to Melbourne and worked there, again as export shipping
supervisor, for the next three and a half years. Next he got a job as an
accounts-payable supervisor in United Dairies at North Paramatta, Sydney,
where he has been working since 1985.
William is now
voluntary coach and manager for tennis and soccer teams of the Assyrian Sports
& Cultural Club of Sydney. He was the club's secretary for two years
(1982-84) and its president for three years (1985-88). He is also now the
Assyrian Church of the East's secretary for welfare and immigration matters.
Daniel presented trophies at the Assyrian Cup Final in Sydney, Australia.
William is the president of Assyrian Sports and Cultural Club. The team of
this club were the winners in the Final against the Assyrian United Soccer
Daniel and Andrew Simon were not only friends but also tennis partners and
hockey teammates. They were two of Habbaniya's top sportsmen and were
sought-after tennis champions in Iraqi sports circles.
by Mikhael Pius
Nineveh Magazine Vol. 13, No. 5 - 1990
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