Saturday, 26 November, 2022

‘Arranging more int’l matches is first target after SAFF win’

‘Arranging more int’l matches is first target after SAFF win’
Bangladesh national women’s team footballers Shamsunnahar Sr (left), Sanjida Akhter (second to left) and Krishna Rani Sarkar (right) pose for a photo along with the Bangladesh Football Federation Women’s Wing Chairman and FIFA Council Member Mahfuza Akhter Kiron after receiving their compensation money and mobile phone on Saturday. Mahfuza handed over the money to the footballers on behalf of BFF President Kazi Salahuddin. Shamsunnahar Sr received Tk one lakh while Krishna got Tk 1.5 lakh while Sanjida received an iPhone. – BFF PHOTO

The Bangladesh Football Federation’s executive committee member and women’s wing chairman Mahfuza Akter Kiron is widely credited for forming the Bangladesh national women’s football team after she joined the organization in 2008. Her recent success with the team came in the form of ‘SAFF Women’s Championship’ title after the women’s team beat hosts Nepal by 3-1 goals in the final last week. Recently she has talked to The Daily Sun regarding her next plan with the team, the chances of qualifying for the World Cup in coming years, etc.


Here are the excerpts from the interview: 

The Daily Sun: After winning the SAFF title, what will be your next plan? 

Mahfuza Akter Kiron: Our first and prime target is to arrange more international matches for the senior team. We have already drafted a two-year plan. The first phase of this plan will end with the Olympic pre-qualifiers and the second phase will end by trying to retain the SAFF title in 2024. There will be several FIFA windows within these two phases. We will try to arrange home and away-based international matches or competitions involving strong nations such as Japan, China, Korea and Singapore. The team will then know their real strengths and weaknesses. Apart from these, we will continue our residential camp as it has been taking place.

The Daily Sun: You had once said that Bangladesh can play in the women’s football world cup. How realistic is it now?

Mahfuza Akter Kiron:  Yes, it’s possible. At this moment, I mean after this achievement, we can think about it. But of course, we have to do a lot of work. The federation has been preparing a long-term plan for the women’s national football team. As I have earlier said, we have already drafted a plan for the next two years and will try to play a lot of international matches. Matches against strong and upper-ranked opponents will help us improve our rankings. This will continue in future. If everything goes well, and we can reach the top position at the Asian level, we can expect to play in the world cup.

The Daily Sun: It seems you need a lot of budgets to execute this plan in a proper way but the BFF has been struggling with a financial crisis. How will you manage then?

Mahfuza Akter Kiron: Money is always a big issue. The BFF has indeed been facing a financial crisis. If Kazi Salahuddin gets a sponsorship, he will definitely invest it in the team. He promised the girls to increase their salaries and upgrade their training facilities in the last meeting. We have been in talks with a big company for the last three to four months. We proposed a budget and hopefully, we will be able to tie up with them by this month. The salary, camp expenses, training facilities, equipment, tournaments and leagues have been included in this budget. Also, the BFF made a proposal of TK 450 crore to the government. There is an allocation for the girls in the proposal.

The Daily Sun: What are your thoughts regarding coaches and supporting staff?

Mahfuza Akter Kiron: Of course, we will also increase their salaries. They have been regularly doing training under the supervision of Paul Smalley (BFF Technical Director). Paul makes training design, prescription, and choreography. Coaches execute those plans on the field. We are fully satisfied with them.

The Daily Sun: You have achieved a very valuable (SAFF title) thing in your tenure. How do you evaluate this feat?

Mahfuza Akter Kiron: I believe if we can give the right effort and if we have the ambition to achieve something, we will definitely get it. It (SAFF title) is the proof. We have given our best efforts since day one. We have been facing bad times and have been facing a financial crisis. But the BFF president and I managed it anyway. When we brought the girls to the camp and started to pay them, we didn’t pay their expenses from the BFF fund. We didn’t even have any sponsorship until Dhaka Bank tied up with us in 2018. Kazi Salahuddin and his daughter Sarazeen Kazi bore all expenses from their company SS Solution until 2018.