Bahram Tavakoli, 61, is the national water-polo team’s former captain. In 1974, he was awarded the Gold Medal in the Asian Games by the Shah himself. Today, as a referee and a commentator for the national radio, he expresses quite strong criticism against the current system: the Islamic Republic’s investments in its sportsmen are insufficient, he claims, and most of all, athletes are demobilized by the harshest Islamic rules, such as banning the broadcasting of games on television. When umpiring a women’s game, he has to hide behind a curtain and have the action being described to him by a female assistant. But Bahram Tavakoli also has another job: he’s a nuclear engineer, part of the team that was given the task to complete the construction of the Bushehr plant in the Persian Gulf with the help of Russian technicians. In this capacity, upon which he does not elaborate, he shows an unmitigated loyalty to his country and his government.
The current water-polo team, seen here on a day of training.
The Iranian water-polo team before the revolution, during the era when they still won gold medals. Bahram Tavakoli is surrounded by red (Tavakoli archives).
The Iranian water-polo team in 1975 during a (victorious) journey in Columbia. Bahram Tavakoli is surrounded by red (Tavakoli archives).