Monday, 29 May, 2023

Should we prefer market to playground?

  • Maj Shahab Uddin Chaklader (retd)
  • 31st March, 2023 03:27:42 PM
  • Print news
Should we prefer market to playground?

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A good field is precondition for creating potential players. Eden Gardens, Victoria Memorial and Race Course and other sports clubs in Kolkata have reached goals depending on Gorer Math. Bengali nation is fond of sports. We saw Aga Khan Gold Cup before independence. The sports leaders in Dhaka used to organise the tournament. RCD football was also evident. The audiences were keen to enjoy the classics of the football stars. Now, International football tournaments are not held in Dhaka. Instead of organising international football tournaments, federation leaders pass idle time watching such games held in other countries. Dhaka stadium was constructed by the then Pakistan government. This stadium is surrounded by market. But no stadium in Pakistan is handicapped by shops. Market is main obstacle to flourishing sports in Dhaka stadium. On the contrary, Army Stadium in Dhaka is conducive for sports for not having shops. 

Once, Purana Paltan was an abode of Dhaka city dwellers for evening refreshment after a tireless day. The so-called scholars constructed stadium for earning monthly rent and revenue from the shops therein. Stadium was flattened with multiple shops which are sources of huge earning. It was dedicated to hockey. The western gallery was too far to see the small hockey ball. Besides, the oblique afternoon sun used to prevent audience from seeing the play. So, good field is needed for practice.

In 1985, Dhaka hosted Asia Cup Hockey. Bangladesh team was in Hotel Purbani. No practice was allowed in Bangabandhu Stadium for being sports venue. The hockey players used to go to BUET field for practice. From 1985 till date, the country has not got rid of field crisis. There is no respite from the complex mentality of the sports leaders. Gorer Math has been the generating force and steam engine for the sports promotion in Kolkata. We are struggling to get a good field. Every unit of Army has a field of their own. What an exquisite environment it is! On the other hand, we construct stadium for housing shops affecting sports. Earlier, hockey and cricket had been played in Paltan field. After construction of stadium, the sports were marred and jeopardized.

I played two-three tournaments in a field in Malaysia which was without any boundary. The field comprised a tin-shed sitting arrangement. They are promoting sports and we are marking time. We are busy with realising revenue from stadium shops. Where does the money go? The federations are hard hit by financial crisis. Cannot the stadium earnings be spent for the federations?

We have Jatiya Krira Parishad (National Sports Council). Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman established it. This organisation oversees sports federations. The authorities should reactivate the Jatiya Krira Parishad. It should be kept in mind that Bangabandhu established the organisation which must be allowed to play effective role in flourishing sports in the country.

The country has developed a culture of importing foreign coaches although Harun and Mamun are known for their potentials as local coaches for hockey. We have international standard umpire. But our authorities have no faith in them.

Now, a question travels in public mind as to the role of Jatiya Krira Parishad which curtails freedom of the federation leaders to work for promotion of sports. The continuous failure of a government organisation like Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishtan (BKSP) in producing good sportsmen is also unacceptable.

However, the Bashundhara Group, the country’s largest business conglomerate, has constructed a comprehensive sports complex which is symbol of better sports futurity of the country. Sports must be promoted for diverting derailed youths to the right direction. Sports should dominate seminars and television programmes also. The victory of Bengali nation in 1971 liberation war manifested our might. If you patronise the players, they will sure to highlight the country.

(The writer is National Sports Award recipient and former captain of Bangladesh national and Army hockey teams.)

Translated by Munshi Firoz Al Mamun