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Beacon of Football Renaissance

  • Abdul Mukith
  • 25th September, 2022 12:05:17 PM
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A short video clip of Bangladesh national women’s football team forward Krishna Rani Sarkar has gone viral on social media. In the footage, Krishna in a Bashundhara Kings jersey is seen masterfully performing a dribbling cutting through the opposition lineup to create a goal-scoring opportunity. Netizens are showering praises on the footballer. The viral photo of another player of the team kicking the ball stretching her two legs wide demonstrates power and strength of the country’s female footballers.

World football has witnessed some of the best dribblers in the last few decades. Argentine Lionel Messi, and Brazilian Ronaldinho and Neymar are a few of the illustrious names in the field. Of them, Messi is considered the king of dribbling. No other player around the world can dribble with such consistency and effectiveness like Messi. He has the ability to open up a deadlocked game with a few touches and has the ability to dribble past an entire team.

The dribbling skill which Krishna acquired and demonstrated in the pitch is certainly of world class. Her skill is not inferior to that of the superstars of the world football. However, this is something new in Bangladesh football. We have hardly seen a Bangladeshi player – male or female – in the past performing a dribbling with such effectiveness. However, things have now started to change and our women football is attaining international standard gradually. The performance of the current women soccer team is testament to it.

Riding on two goals scored by Krishna in the final against hosts Nepal, Bangladesh clinched the 6th SAFF Women’s Championship. This is Bangladesh’s first trophy in the regional women’s football tournament. The women in red and green beat Nepal, the runners-up in four previous editions of the championship, by 3-1 goals in the final on September 19. If we look at the statistics, we will understand how aggressive and strong football our girls played in the seven-nation tournament. They sent the ball into the net of the opponents for 23 times in five games and conceded only one, that too in the final. The female booters stormed into the final crushing Bhutan by 8-0 goals in the semi-final. They qualified for the semi-final as the Group A champions with an all-win run beating the Maldives by 3-0 goals in the first match and outplaying Pakistan by 6-0 goals in the 2nd match apart from registering their historic 3-0 victory against India, which lifted the trophy of the SAFF Women’s Championship on all five previous occasions. This is Bangladesh maiden victory over our neighbour.

Bangladesh skipper Sabina Khatun led the team from the front scoring eight goals in five matches featuring two hat-tricks – against Pakistan and Bhutan – to win both the prestigious awards of best player and highest scorer of the meet. Bangladesh goalkeeper Rupna Chakma, who displayed her brilliance under the bar, was adjudged best goalkeeper of the tournament. Bangladesh team were also adjudged most disciplined team to receive the fair play trophy of the tournament. Bangladesh reached the final of the 2016 edition only to lose to India.

Clinching the U-19 Cricket World Cup by our Young Tigers in 2020 and the Women’s Asia Cup by the Tigresses in 2018 was the major achievement in the country’s sports history thus far apart from the 1997 ICC Trophy. However, there were no massive celebrations then like this time. The nation did not forget to give the heroes their due honour for clinching the SAFF Championship. The players returned home to hero’s welcome. They were showered with unprecedented love and affection from the country’s people on arrival from Kathmandu. They were given a rousing reception both at the airport and the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) House for bringing glory for the nation. And during their victory ride to the BFF House from the airport on a newly-shaped and well-decorated open-top BRTC double-decker bus, thousands of soccer fans spontaneously gathered on both sides of the road and waved flags, posters and placards to congratulate the golden girls. The girls alongside the coaching staff also waved their hands in reply to them. The government as well as different organisations and companies announced rewards for the players and they rightly deserve these. They are not only the first Bangladeshi women’s team to win the SAFF title, but they are also the first Bangladeshi team to get such glorious reception.

This success of the woman booters will certainly act as a beacon of football renaissance in Bangladesh. This will lead millions of football enthusiasts throughout the country to dream of a bright future for Bangladesh football. With such a brilliant display of football, the nation hopes that this improving and hardworking side can bring more success and achievements for the country in the coming days through their stunning performances. Bangladesh are now South Asia champions and have set their eyes on reining the entire Asia in days to come. And gradually, they will make their footprint in the world football and the day is not far away.

The victory will also inspire their male counterparts and players of other disciplines to do better in their respective fields. And drawing inspiration from their female counterparts, Bangladesh national men’s football team beat Cambodia 1-0 in a FIFA friendly match on September 22. The achievement of the woman footballers will also break the barriers to girls coming to sports. From now on, no parents will discourage their daughters to embrace sports as a profession. Instead they will give encouragement to the girls.

The winning of the SAFF championship has triggered a change in the country’s football and taken it many steps ahead. However, the glory has not come on its own. Rather, the girls brought it through years of hard work. If they can keep their skills and stamina intact, they are sure to bag more achievements in the future.

The introduction of Bangamata school football tournament has played a vital role in grooming woman footballers. And we have reaped the benefit today. The girls who played in the Under-16 team have now won the SAFF tournament. They have reached this stage playing age-level football. The government should focus more on age-level football to groom players and produce more Krishnas and Sabinas. It should invest more and increase the facilities for the players to get a better result. It is not possible to bring out the best in them keeping their families unfed and homeless as reports have it that many of the female footballers have no home of their own while many others live in dilapidated houses. The government must do enough so that the girls can concentrate only on football without any necessity to worry about their families. And then our football will reach its desired goal.

The writer is Shift In-charge, the Daily Sun

Source: Sun Editorial