Friday, 20 May, 2022

Bashundhara Sports Complex built on PM’s advice

Says Ahmed Akbar Sobhan

  • Sports Correspondent
  • 18 February, 2022 12:00 AM
  • Print news
Bashundhara Sports Complex built on PM’s advice
Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan (centre) speaks at the inauguration ceremony of the Bashundhara Sports Complex in the capital on Thursday. Bangladesh Football Federation Senior Vice-President Abdus Salam Murshedy, MP, (right) and BFF First Vice-President and Bashundhara Kings President Imrul Hassan are also seen on the occasion. - sun photo

Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, Chairman of country’s largest industrial conglomerate Bashundhara Group, on Thursday said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had advised him to construct the country’s best sports complex.

“Our Honourable Prime Minister inspires me most about sports, saying only sports can brand Bangladesh abroad. I’m grateful to her as she advises the country's businessmen to brand the country. The main tool of branding this country is sports,” he said.

The Bashundhara Group Chairman was speaking at a ceremony marking the inauguration of Bashundhara Kings Arena, the football stadium of Bashundhara Sports Complex in Bashundhara Residential Area.

The programme was held during the half time of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) match between Bashundhara Kings and Bangladesh Police Football Club. Kings won the historic match at their den defeating Police by 3-0 goals.

“The news of this complex has now reached Europe, America and Brazil. InshaAllah, when this complex is completed, we’ll get something to feel proud of. Hopefully, the complex will be completed within one to one and half years,” Ahmed Akbar Sobhan said.

He thanked all for the encouragement and support. “I’m grateful to all the journalists and other respected persons who have come here and who are always encouraging me to build this complex. Your cooperation will take us a long way, InshaAllah,” he said, announcing the inauguration of the football ground.

The Bashundhara Group Chairman also shared his vision and future plan about Bashundhara Sports Complex. “Not only the football stadium but you’ll get to see also many other stadiums in this complex, including cricket, hockey, basketball, volleyball and athletics ones. We’ll have an indoor academy. We’re trying to take a franchise from Manchester United,” he said. 

 He said some big clubs of the world such as Manchester United and Real Madrid have offered them franchise. “They want to give us franchise and train our people and children.  

But our stadium is not completed yet. Hopefully, the academy will be completed within one year,” he added.

Ahmed Akbar Sobhan said at least 1,000 boys will be able to stay in the academy and they will learn sports. “We’ll also have an academy for girls. We feel proud of our girls. They’ve moved far ahead in the sports arena, including football and cricket,” he said.

Recalling some old memories, he said he has sporting spirit in his genetics. “It can be said genetically as my father became first in All India swimming. My elder brother Sadek Bhai played for the Pakistan national hockey team. He also led Abahani in the first division football. I've also played for Bangladesh hockey team. Sports are in our genetics,” he said.

Mentioning that he was definitely a fan of Abahani, the Bashundhara Group Chairman said when Bangabandhu died, his elder brother Sadek was the captain of Abahani. “No players were coming to the club after Bangabandhu’s assassination. But I saw Sadek Bhai to launch the club anew. He manifested immense courage to call meetings with players and organisers at his home. I was a student of intermediate that time,” he added.

When asked about their gains from the Bashundhara Sports Complex, he said they have constructed the complex as part of their CSR activities and for welfare of the country and nation, not for any personal benefit.

“Everything should not be considered for making profits. You can call it a CSR or branding -- whatever you want to say. The price of land around Bashundhara has doubled after building this complex. All the products of Bashundhara are now living items. Bashundhara City Shopping Mall draws visitors more than any other shopping complexes in the country. So, we just don’t think about business or benefits. We have to do something for CSR, in the interest of the country and prosperity of the country,” Ahmed Akbar Sobhan added.

“I’ve earlier said that the Prime Minister encourages all the businessmen of our country. She advises us to invest in sports and come forward for sports. She has three clubs – Sheikh Russel, Sheikh Jamal and Abahani. She contributed a lot to the development of cricket in our country. No one can deny this,” he said.

The Bashundhara Group Chairman further said the entire football fraternity should work at the grassroots level for the development of soccer.

“When Abahani and Mohammedan used to play in the past, we would stand in queues at 9:00am for buying tickets. We don’t see such craze in football nowadays. We have to work in school football and grassroots football for the development of our football because this sport needs a long time to advance. There’s a great future for girls in football. They’ll take us to the world-class level,” he added.

Ahmed Akbar Sobhan described Bashundhara Sports Complex as a perfect example for football. “We’ve set this example. Abahani have also taken initiative to build its own ground while Mohammedan will take the step in future. Police are also able to do that. I’m sure one day all of them will do that. My first plan was to build a stadium for Bashundhara Kings, but later I found that everyone supported me a lot, encouraged me a lot to involve other sports. I got a huge appreciation from media,” he added.  

BFF Senior Vice-President Abdus Salam Murshedy, MP, Bashundhara Group Vice-Chairman Shafiat Sobhan Sanvir and BFF First Vice-President and Bashundhara Kings President Imrul Hassan were also present on the occasion.

“We’re very happy and overwhelmed. I would like to thank the honourable Chairman Sir of our group as we would not have been able to bring this thing to this stage without his encouragement and inspiration. Hopefully, we’ll be able to complete the complex within one and a half years and it’ll brighten the image of Bangladesh on the stages of Asia and the world,” said Imrul Hassan.

Bashundhara Sports Complex made history as it officially hosted a BPL match on Thursday as the first dedicated home venue of a club in the country’s history.

Bangladesh football has a long history, but Bashundhara Kings set a milestone in the domestic stage hosting a top-tier match at its dedicated home venue for the first time in the country’s history.

Bashundhara Kings also became the first-ever club in South Asia to have a dedicated home venue. The Complex is also the home venue of Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra Ltd. They will host Dhaka Abahani Ltd on Friday there.

Bashundhara Sports Complex, constructed by Bashundhara Group on 300 bighas of land, is capable of hosting all popular sports, including cricket, football, hockey, futsal, golf, basketball, volleyball, archery and shooting.

It also has indoor arenas -- a yoga centre, water park that meets the Olympic standard, entertainment complex, female stadium, female training ground and kids zone.