Bangladesh had high expectations from their archery team during the recently-concluded fifth Islamic Solidarity Games, held in Konya, Turkiye where they sent players to participate in all archery disciplines. Although the archers won three medals – one silver and two bronze, their performances couldn’t satisfy many of the country’s sports fraternity. The country’s celebrity archer Ruman Shana, who won many international medals including World Cup bronze and silver medals, ended up with only a bronze medal in the recurve team’s event of the Solidarity Games but it was hardly enough to convince the 27-year-old archer also. Shana recently talked to The Daily Sun regarding many issues including their not up-to-mark performance in the Solidarity Games, his frustration with the federation and his not getting the IOC scholarship, etc.
The Daily Sun: What actually happened in the Islamic Solidarity Games?
Ruman Shana: Actually, luck didn’t favour us. We tried but didn’t get enough success. We did a lot of planning throughout the season and tried to execute those in the tournaments but ultimately failed. But there is no point in regretting what happened. It is part of life, a part of sports. We expected good results and we should have played at least two or three finals.
We had a busy schedule after last year’s Tokyo Olympics. We’ve participated in four international competitions before the Solidarity Games including the Asian Archery, Asia Cup and World Cup. Now, we have to correct the mistakes, move on and have to think about the next tournaments.
Next year is very important for us. There are lots of important competitions throughout the year including the Olympic qualifiers, World Championships, Asian Championships and Asian Games. Hopefully, we will try our best there.
The Daily Sun: Are you suffering from any kind of depression?
Please ask others because I’m facing a lot of issues due to my outspokenness. I am a senior athlete, so everybody comes to me to talk about their demands to the federation. And I always speak on behalf of them. I demand from the federation what we need, what we should do and how we should do, etc.
The Daily Sun: What types of responses did you get from the federation?
Ruman Shana: Federation is now paying us TK three thousand per month. Do you think it is enough nowadays? They have sponsors, and they have financial support from the government but there is nothing for archers. As I know archery is the only federation now which gets the highest amount of financial assistance from the government. But unfortunately, our athletes get nothing.
The BOA gave us financial rewards after the success in the South Asian Games. They gave the reward which they announced. The gold medallists got TK six lakh each, the silver medallists got TK three lakh each and the bronze medallists got TK two lakh each.
That time, we also heard that we would get a reception from our prime minister. The reception means monetary assistance. The U-19 Cricket World Cup champion team and the SA Games medallists were supposed to get the reception but later it was cancelled due to Covid-19.
The Daily Sun: What are your sources of income now?
Ruman Shana: We have no source of money except the sport. The federation gives us TK 3000 each per month. It was earlier than TK 1500. We have been getting TK 3000 for the last three months only. But there are a lot of conditions here. As per the rules, we can’t get a salary and an Olympic stipend at a time when we are in the Olympic camp. They can run 10-12 businesses at a time but we, the athletes, are not eligible to get money from two sources.
The Daily Sun: What’s the condition of the archers of other countries?
Ruman Shana: I don't know much about all but heard about Indian archers, who get a lot of money from the state, from the sponsors and from many other sources. They get a lot of facilities from their government including accommodation and transportation. When the Indian archers qualified for the Olympics, they were rewarded with RS 10 lakh each. We got nothing from the government, the BOA and the federation. Only the sponsor, Teer, gave me TK two lakh.
I heard that our National Olympic Committee announced to give us TK five lakh each for the Olympic qualification but we’ve not received that amount yet. Isn’t it disappointing not getting recognition after my achievements? I have earned more than 50 medals for the nation including 14 international gold medals. I got medals in the World Cup, World Championship, Asian Championship, Asia Cup and South Asian Games. I don’t know if any other players or athletes in Bangladesh have this record so far.
The Daily Sun: Do you think the frustration have an impact on your recent performance?
Ruman Shana: I was depressed and thinking about giving up. But the coach gave me support. He helped me a lot to fight my depression. These things are always happening to me. I can give an example of the IOC scholarship. I’m a victim of internal politics so I didn’t get the scholarship this time.
Rubel, Diya and Alif got that but I was excluded from the list. The scholarship was handed over to such a person who is not even in the national team. He had no results in international competitions and even he’s not in the international rankings. Our coach Martin (Frederick) was also disappointed with this decision.
The IOC gives the scholarship based on performance. I’m in the international ranking and I’ve more than 50 medals and I’m currently the number one archer in the national rankings. But I didn’t get the scholarship.
The Daily Sun: Did you talk to the federation or NOC?
Ruman Shana: The federation deliberately excluded my name. I also talked to Reza Sir (BOA Secretary General) and he told me that they have nothing to do because the federation has the only right to select their athletes for the scholarship. But he also told me that he will take care of this matter. But the time has already passed.
The Daily Sun: Did you talk to your service team Ansar?
Ruman Shana: I’m really grateful to Ansar. I’m here only due to their support. It gave me freedom and monetary assistance. They also supported me financially for my mother’s medical treatment. My mother is sick, she lost her vision. Last time, our Prime Minister gave TK five lakh for her treatment. I then took her to India for surgery in 2019.
The Daily Sun: What’s your future plan?
Ruman Shana: Sometimes I think I could leave it (archery) and start a business in my village. I’ve no chance to become a coach because they just want a certificate, not practical experience.