In the present world sponsorship is a major part of the survival and progress of sports. Commercial sponsors or corporate bodies are playing a key role behind the screen. They patronise sports tournaments and competitions in every country, either capitalist or socialist.
Olympics is the biggest sports brand which consists of tournaments of many sorts of games. Players across the country take part in it. Commercial sponsors are associated with the sports arena.
There is no alternative to commercial sponsorship for greasing the wheel of sports and promoting games. Manpower is not that important for hiking standard of sports. In the changing landscape, reliance on the governments or state parties for the promotion of sports has declined.
Credit goes to ancient Greek for sponsorship in sports and scholarly works. The affluent Athenians used to donate money with a view to making sports and culture available to the commoners. In return, the state authorities would get the names of sponsors engraved on stone-plate as a token of respect.
In Bengal, the ancient Rajas, zamindars, and rich people had a great history of patronising sports.
The sports sponsorship by Rajas and zamindars has come to a zero level as those systems are nonexistent. Gradually, corporate houses and commercial enterprises have filled in the gaps. Sports patronising is a more effective way to focus on the issues.
Bashundhara Group, the country’s largest business conglomerate, has rightly read the situation. So, it has engaged in patronisation of sports, especially popular football. No other corporate house except Bashundhara has contributed to the field since 51 years of the country’s independence. And Bashundhara Group has succeeded in creating a vibe and highlighting the country’s image internationally through sports.
Bashundhara Group has already proved justification for its sports involvement. The Group and club management are working simultaneously as per the corporate plan to present ‘Bashundhara Kings’ to the target group. The primary objective of the corporate house is to showcase Kings as the best brand at home and the subcontinent. The club has become champions in three consecutive premier leagues. This is a maiden record for any corporate team.
In 2018, the club became victorious in all tournaments including the premier league. Besides, the female team of the corporate house has played two leagues becoming champions.
Although Kings could not afford the trophy of AFC Champions League in the regional platform, it already brought qualitative changes and reforms in the sports. It has reshaped public sentiments towards football.
Bashundhara Kings is the first full-fledged professional football club in the country. From the outset, the club is propagating new culture. Kings have all opportunities like European clubs. It is in possession of the arena to play premier league. It has a good practicing field, coaching staff, and residential facilities. All credit goes to Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, a former hockey player. His sports-enthusiast sons are playing a key role in patronising sports. They have much love for and inclination to sports. In addition to performing corporate social responsibilities, they patronise games out of the belief that sports have the power to offer to the meaning of life and serve society. Sports symbolise the pulse of the nation and civilization. It is their deep conviction that sports are capable of ensuring the mentally and physically fit young generation required for the development of the society.
Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan comes from a sports family. He used to play competitive hockey.
His brother Abdus Sadek was an internationally acclaimed hockey player. He secured his position in Pakistan national hockey squad. Their father renowned lawyer and philanthropist Alhaj Abdus Sobhan took part in the All India swimming competition.
Apart from patronising social activities, the Bashundhara Group is contributing to the promotion of sports. Members of Sobhan family are not only patronising various sports clubs of the country but helping those.
Bashundhara Group Managing Director Sayem Sobhan Anvir has been Chairman of Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra Ltd since 2015. He received an honorary award accorded by Television Reporters Unity of Bangladesh (TRUB) for his contribution to the field of industry, business and sport. Safwan Sobhan Tasvir, another son Bashundhara Group Chairman, is President of Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club. Needless to say, the Group patronises two clubs a lot.
The country’s largest corporate house is not confined to football. Rather, it keeps patronising cricket, hockey, badminton and golf. The country’s first ever dedicated sports channel, T-Sports belongs to Bashundhara Group. The channel is aimed at serving sports locally and internationally.
Bashundhara Group is the first to have constructed a dedicated stadium for its club. It has initiated the subcontinent’s biggest Sports Complex equipped with all state-of-the-art facilities at the cost of Tk 15,000cr. The complex is constructed on 300 bighas of land in the Bashundhara Residential Area in Dhaka and is expected to be complete by 2024. The Bashundhara Sports complex comprises indoor and outdoor games stadiums and practice fields for football, volleyball, basketball, cricket, hockey, tennis, golf, archery, and swimming. It has gymnastic facilities too.
The contribution of Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan to the field of sports is voluntary. He has set a rare example by patronising sports without seeking any feedback.
Md Imrul Hassan has been discharging responsibilities sincerely as President of Bashundhara Kings since 2017. The devotion he showed and the time invested in materialising the club’s dream is praiseworthy. He was elected vice president of the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) by a huge margin.
In a recent interaction at his office, Imrul Hassan said “The greatest power and inspiration of our club are Bashundhara Group Chairman and his sports-enthusiast sons. Despite all preoccupations, he watches football and other tournaments. The person who first makes calls to me after the team’s every play is none but Chairman Shaheeb.”
The writer is a columnist and analyst, ex-vice president of AIPS
BDST: 1740 HRS, Dec 30, 2022