The foremost important thing in creating players is the presence of fields in the country. ‘The Gorer Math’ is situated in Kolkata which includes Eden garden Stadium, Victoria Memorial, Racecourse and some other fields.
We’re also a sports-loving nation and had the experience of watching the Aga Khan Gold Cup hosted prior to the independence, which was arranged by the football authorities in Dhaka. RDC football was also held in Dhaka and the spectators used to waiting eagerly to see the football skills of the star footballers.
At present, there’s no international football tournaments held in Dhaka; or the officials of football federation just pass their time by watching the game of cricket instead. The Dhaka Stadium was built by the Pakistanis, which was encumbered with shops.
However, no presence of shops is visible in the stadiums of Pakistan. The environment for sports was greatly hampered due to this excessive presence of shops.
In Dhaka, there’s Army Stadium, where no presence of shops is visible. The Purana Paltan area was a refreshment place for the Dhaka-dwellers; however, some inconclusive people constructed the stadium with commercial shops to get money and monthly rent. The more the shops, the more the income will be—it’s the motto of the authorities.
Once, the stadium was given to hockey federation. But, due to the largeness of the stadium, the hockey ball was hardly visible to the spectators. In 1985, Asia Cup Hockey Tournaments was held in this stadium.
As the Bangabandhu Stadium was the venue of the games, there was no chance for practicing in it. The national hockey team did the task of practicing in BUET field. From that period of 1985, many years have been passed and now we’re in 2023.
No progress is visible regarding field-problem, let alone the mentality of the officials. The ‘Gorer Math’ has been working solely as the steam engine in the development of sports in Kolkata, while we’re struggling to find a proper ground for hockey. There’re separate field for each unit of the army, which was excellent plan. And we build stadium just for facilitating shops, spoiling the environment for games and sports.
Before the construction of hockey stadium in Paltan Ground, cricket games and hockey practice were held on this ground, in addition to handball and Kabadi. Nonetheless, blocking the facilities, it has has been turned into a non-essential stadium, and for this, the situation of losing everything is created.
In the stadium where I played two or three matches in Malaysia, there are tin sheds along the middle of the field and the whole field is without walls. They are progressing in the game and we are standing in the same place doing 'mark time'.
These shops, including the stadium shops, have been acquiring money and rentals. Where does this money go? Federations are short of money. When there are shops in the stadium, why these rent or fees can’t given to the federations? We have National Sports Council founded by Bangabandhu. Here the federations are looked after by the National Sports Council.
We’ve to chalk out the plan to make National Sports Council more active. The National Sports Council has the opportunity to play a more positive role in country's sports. We have to remember that the institution was built under the guidance of Bangabandhu. Hence, this institution should be made more effective.
We have brought foreign coaches in hockey. We’ve local experienced coaches like Harun, Mamun and others. The umpires are also of international standard. The only problem is that our authorities don't trust them.
When thinking about the country's sports, the first discussion should be whether there is a national sports council or not? After winning the elections, the federation leaders were hindered from doing their work independently for this council.
The biggest surprise of sports is the failure to build an academy with education facilities like the BKSP even after independence.
But, a shining exception is the Bashundhara Group Sports Complex. It’s a strong inspiration to build the future of sports in the country. Sports should move forward to guide the wayward youth of these days.
Sports should be given priority in seminars, discussion and TV channels. Liberation War of 1971 is proof of how strong we can be if it’s necessary. So, support the players and they will shine the name of Bangladesh in the world.
Author: Former captain of national and army hockey team who won national sports award
BDST: 1522 HRS, MAR 31, 2023