Bangladesh Archery witnessed a very successful period during last year with plethora of international recognition coming Bangladesh’s way. Country’s celebrated archer Ruman Shana secured a spot in the Tokyo Olympics and clinched the third position in World Archery Championship 2019.
These feats were the result of ceaseless hard work of the entire Archery fraternity. The man behind this phenomenal success is none other than German head coach of Bangladesh Archery Federation (BAF) Martin Frederick.BAF signed a five-year contract with Martin under their ‘Teer Go for Gold Project’ to improve the performance of Bangladeshi archers. Now, the 52-year-old German is dreaming big for Bangladesh. He shared his vision and future plans with Daily Sun.
Here are the excerpts of the conversation.
daily sun: What do you do now to spend your time in these corona affected times?
Frederick: We are all having a really hard time at this moment. I stay mostly at home, but last week I went out to visit our training centre to prepare something for federation. Besides, I am also doing some office work, making plans and working on practice videos for archers. I have also started to learn Bangla online. You know, learning never stops. I think it will help me to work with Bangladeshi players and coaches.
daily sun: What about your archers? They are out of training and competitions for a long time, are they frustrated?
Frederick: My archers have been in their homes; out of the training and competitions since the end of March. Now, we are hoping this crisis would end soon so that we can resume our training. ‘Frustrated’ is the wrong word to use here in this context. They are just missing training, sport and competitions. Of course, they are assigned some drills to do at home at the beginning of the break, but couldn’t do anything specific that time because they didn’t have bows at their home. The federation sent bows to them two weeks ago. Now, they can do some more specific practice sessions, but still that can’t replace the regulation practice which we do in the training ground. The federation has also started an online training session for them.daily sun: How did you get involved with archery?
Frederick: I was just 8 when I started archery. It was the year 1976, I have been involved with archery for more than 40 years. My family, brother and cousins are all involved with archery in one way or another.
daily sun: When did you start your coaching career?
Frederick: I was quite young then. There was a local club in Berlin; I started to work with them as a volunteer coach in 1987. I started my professional career from 1988-89. I have been a professional coach for more than 31 years. I have worked with Germany Archery Team for eleven years from 2001 to 2011 and Chile archery team for six years from 2011 to 2017 before coming here.
daily sun: Bangladesh archers achieved some phenomenal successes in 2019 which includes Shana earning the Olympic quota and Bangladesh clinching 10 gold in SA Games. What are the secrets behind this great success?
Frederick: The achievements of SA Games were really amazing. I am very happy and proud of my players. Our secret is hard work and good preparation. The whole team, archers and coaches, gave their best. The quota for Olympics and the Bronze Medal in World Archery Championship were great achievements for me and the whole team.
daily sun: What will be your personal target going in Tokyo Olympics?
Frederick: First of all, I have to close the gap that has been created due to long break in the wake of the pandemic. I told you, we did our last practice session in March. Players, who usually practice for 6-8 hours per day, have been reduced to doing nearly nothing. Normally, I keep my eyes on the long road ahead. I have a goal and a vision but now I would prefer to work a little bit more on shorter steps.
daily sun: Tokyo Olympics has been postponed to 2021. Will it affect the performance of Shana and other Bangladeshi archers?
Frederick: In January-February, we were very clear about our plan for Tokyo. We had our competition plans, our training plans. We were mentally ready. But now we have to reset everything and have to start anew. First of all, we have to work with Ruman. He is a very professional archer full of self-motivation. He is a great player and will surely make a good comeback.
I am in contact with all the players. I can understand that they are not in the best mood at home but they are trying their best. We hope that very soon we can resume our practice. We still have a good chance to earn quota place in the Men's Recurve Team.
daily sun: Bangla-desh are doing well in Recurve events. Why are we lagging behind in compound?
Frederick: I don’t think so. We got 10 gold in the SA Games, five out of those can from Compound. We are on the right way. You can say that we don’t have a big figure like Ruman in the compound event. We need some more time for this. I have seen potential in our compound players. They are highly motivated and are performing well.
daily sun: How do you feel about the current Archery infrastructure of Bangladesh and what would you suggest for further development?
Frederick: I did a lot of work with the federation to improve the infrastructure in the last two years. Now, we have a good structure of national competitions with international standards. Also, we have training facilities. I feel Bangladesh has a lot of potential in Archery. Also, there are so many professional players in organisations. We have to make organisations stronger to enrich archery. We also need coaches because the number of professional players depends on the number of good coaches.
Grassroots archery is also very important. We have some nice talent hunt programmes, especially for girls. I think we have some space to work here for the future.
The infrastructure of this country is totally different. We don’t have clubs here. Most of the European countries have open archery clubs. Anyone can go there. But here we have some professional institutions. We also have to open the door for everyone to be able to enjoy archery. More clubs means more activities.
daily sun: You were awarded the title of ‘Best Coach in Breakthrough category’ by World Archery Federation (WAF) last February. How do you feel about that?
Frederick: It is obviously an honour for me and my full team including players, my coaching colleagues, the federation and sponsors. It would never have happened without the support of all of us.
daily sun: Would you like to share the most memorable moment you had with Bangladesh Archery team?
Frederick: The campaign for World Archery Championship will stay in my mind for a long time. I have seen Ruman and the full team give their best effort there. Our Recurve Men Team was very young and they ranked number nine in there. The top eight teams got the Olympic quota, we were very close.
daily sun: What do you think about Bangladesh’s future in Archery?
Frederick: I like to take it step by step. I have told my players that first let's make the world notice us. I mean we need to reach the quarters, semis of the international tournaments; so that other countries will recognise us. We have achieved it. Now our next step will be to become the highest ranked country of the continent and get among the top 10 of the world.
In the Shanghai World Cup, Ruman became third and our Men’s Recurve Team ended fourth. So, the vision is to sustain that performance. But first of all, we have to overcome the pandemic crisis and then we will march forward.
daily sun: Women are getting more involved in Archery now. What will your suggestion be for women thinking of taking up Archery?
Frederick: I think it is the perfect sport for women. It is not only a sport of physical prowess; it is a mind game and is related with concentration and feelings. The number of female archers in the country is a bit low at this moment. I will request Bangladeshi girls, young women to join us.
daily sun: What would you like to say to archers and the fans of the sport?
Frederick: For me, archery is a mix of art and sport. It has a historical background. I am really happy that our sport has become very popular in the country. Most of the people now know about Archery, it makes me really happy. Now, I can expect that we will have more archers, more coaches which will make us stronger. Our doors are always open for young players. We are looking for more talents, more Ruman Shana.