Bangabandhu UniMed UniHealth Premier Division Basketball League 2020 commenced at Dhanmondi wooden floor gymnasium on Tuesday. Bangladesh Basketball Federation (BBF) arranged the meet marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
A total of six teams, including top two teams from the first division league, are taking part in the tournament. Champions Hornets SC, runners-up Rangers, Dhumketu, Bakshi Bazar and two first division clubs are Josephites and Old DOHS are taking part in the meet.BBF President and Bangladesh Medical Association President Dr Mostafa Jalal Mohiuddin inaugurated the meet as the chief guest while UniMed UniHealth Pharmaceutical Ltd Deputy Managing Director Nazmul Hossain was present as special guest.
In the opening day’s matches, Hornets SC beat Bakshi Bazar by 96-56 points, Rangers beat Old DOHS by 73-39 points and Dhumketu beat Josephites by 97-67 points. Six major teams namely three time league champions The Gregories Club, two time league champions Dhaka Gladiators, The Gregs, Flame Boy’s, Eagles Club and Shawons Club, are not taking part in the ongoing meet. Gregories emerged champions in 2010, 2013 and 2017, Dhaka Gladiators in 2011 and 2012, Hornets in 2018.
To clear their stance, these six clubs arranged a press-conference at restaurant in the capital on Tuesday. Former BBF Joint Secretary and Eagles Club General Secretary Syeed Akhlas Hossain, Gregories Team Manager Ahsan Tanvir and Flame Boy’s player Fahim Alam were present in the presser.
Akhlas told the reporters that they were not participating in the league due to the fear of the second wave of COVID-19. “There is a very dire possibility of a deadly arrival of the second wave of COVID-19. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is also urging us to be more aware of this possible second wave. We don't want to put our players into health risks. Also, basketball players can't play while wearing masks, it is very tough to maintain adequate health measures during the league. We proposed the federation postpone the meet until February or March. But they ignored us and started the meet despite these risks. It is an act of authoritarianism. So, we are not participating in the meet,” he said.
“The meet has been named after Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It shouldn’t have been organised in such a manner. We want the postponement of the league. We have been talking with the federation since August about it. In the last preparatory meeting, we informed the federation about our decisions. Now, we will go to higher authorities. We will inform the National Sports Council (NSC),” told the former BBF joint secretary.
When asked about these complaints, BBF Assistant Secretary General Ranjit Chandra Das said, “Most of these clubs have been facing scarcity of players because most of their players left them and joined others. We have earlier postponed the league for them, but they have failed to form teams. Now, they are citing COVID-19 as the reason and have refused to take part in the league. However, the federation has started the league and it will continue.”