Friday, 29 September, 2023

Will Choton’s resignation be the final nail in coffin of women’s football?

The Bangladesh women’s national football team were brought new hope in the country’s football with their SAFF Women’s Championship crown. The whole nation was expecting that the golden days of football will return through their feet.

However, all these hopes and expectations took a severe blow after the women’s head coach Golam Robbani Choton, the man behind their successful journey, suddenly decided to resign from his post.

Choton can be considered as one of the most decorated coaches in the country’s football as he had bagged seven championship titles in different age-levels competitions at the international stage in his 14-year long career.

Under his coaching, the women’s football earned the titles of AFC U-14 Girls’ Regional Championship (South and Central) in 2015 and 2016, SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship in 2019, SAFF U-18 Women’s Championship in 2018, SAFF U-19 Women’s Championship in 2021, SAFF Women’s Championship in 2022 and recently in SAFF U-20 Women’s Championship in 2023.

Choton was yet to submit his resignation to the Bangladesh Football Federation until this report was written, but it seemed that he is determined not to return to the women’s team camp. He didn’t join Saturday’s scheduled camp and orally told the BFF women’s wing chief Mahfuza Akhter Kiron that he didn’t want to return to the camp anymore.

The women footballers in the camp were shocked by Choton’s sudden decision of his resignation. Krishna Rani Sarkar, the key player of the senior team, told The Daily Sun after the day’s camp, “We are totally shocked. We have been playing under Sir (Choton) since the beginning. We really feel sorry for him... don’t know why he made this decision.”

Choton earlier told this reporter that he had some personal reasons behind taking this decision. He said, “It has been seven to eight years since I have been continuously working with the girls. Now I need a break… due to my engagement with the team, I couldn’t properly give my time to my family and friends. I’m quite exhausted both mentally and physically.”

Choton’s decision came on the same day when striker Sirat Jahan Shopna announced her sudden decision to retire from football only at the age of 22.  Shopna played a vital role in last year’s SAFF title win by scoring four goals.

Shopna announced her retirement on Facebook, “I, on my own accord, am retiring from professional football. I had the privilege of playing professional football for almost eight years. In my football career, I’ve achieved many things. I’m thankful for all of it and would like to thank Almighty Allah. Through football, I’ve crossed paths with many people. Knowingly or unknowingly, if I’ve hurt anyone, please forgive me and pray for me.”

Two other women booters -- Anuching Mogini and Sajeda Khatun -- also announced their retirements from football after being dropped from the camp earlier in January. Both players were the members of SAFF winning Bangladesh team. 

The Daily Sun gathered information from some reliable sources and found out after analysing those facts that the players and coaching staff were dissatisfied with BFF’s activities regarding the team’s future. Also, the federation’s ‘lack of goodwill’ for increasing the salaries of players and coaching staff instigated Choton and his players to leave the team. 

The Daily Sun also learned that some other members of the coaching staff and players would also leave the camp after Choton’s decision. All these things started since the BFF failed to send the team to last month’s Asian Qualifiers round one of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Paris 2024 in Myanmar due to a financial crisis.

BFF president Kazi Salahuddin, Kiron and some other members said that they had been facing problems to have sponsorship for the women’s team and blamed the media for this reason as they never appreciate their work.

BFF ex-general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag, who was banned by FIFA for two years for his financial irregularities and documents forgery in the FIFA fund, blamed the Ministry of Youth and Sports for their failure.

The federation has not given any official statement regarding Choton and Shopna’s retirement, though it had not made any comments regarding Anuching Mogini and Sajeda Khatun earlier. 

BFF earlier retained its technical director Paul Smalley, increasing his salaries several times, now it is time to see what they do with Choton, coaching staff and other players to keep them in the camp.