For any sport to thrive, the root-level organizations like clubs, services teams and districts generally play the vital roles. These are the pillars on which a sport body is built. And for a young Bangladesh Archery Federation (BAF), which started its humble journey in 2002, these organs are playing their parts in that steady growth.
And this was quite evident during the two-day Teer 9th National Archery Championship where 32 teams – 21 clubs, 6 services teams, three districts, a foundation and a sports directorate – fought for glory at a place far away from Dhaka, but an ideal home for the archers to train and compete uninterrupted round the year.
Interestingly, they are not like the big clubs we are associated with for any other sport like football, hockey or cricket. Those clubs are unique and solely focus on archery. A national championship means maximum number of districts, which is more to do with filling up the numbers instead of any serious concern. In archery only three districts – Narail, Chittagong and Dhaka – took part with purpose at the Shaheed Ahsan Ullah Master Stadium, a relatively lesser known venue at Tongi on the Dhaka-Mymensigh highway.
As the two-day meet concluded yesterday, some younger archers came out with flying colours, outshining the more established players, which will certainly serve the federation that has recently inked a deal with City Group – a partnership that set a lofty target of winning at least a medal in 2020 Tokyo Olympics under the vision of 'Teer Go for Gold.'
Ashikuzzamam Anay, Ratan Miah and Ashim Kumar Das outshone the recognized national archers in men's individual compound bow event to win gold, silver and bronze while Ety Khatun emerged from nowhere to win a bronze medal in women's individual recurve event in her first national appearance.
Ety represented Teerondaj Sangsad, a top archery club relatively solvent for providing archers their necessary equipment and training. The services teams Army, Air Force, Boarder Guard Bangladesh, Ansar and Police also do not have any financial constraint to run their archery outfits.
Quantum Sputum Club is another committed entity in archery. A BKSP-like institution based in Lama under Bandarban district, they groom some 50 archers, mostly indigenous, along with athletes of 11 other disciplines.
But those solvent organizations need technical support to grow in a sport where actually the first batch of national archers are acting as coaches. First gold medallist Sajjad Hossain is now the coach of Bangladesh Army, former national archer Ziaur Rahman is involved with Bangladesh Ansar, former archer Noor Alam and current archer Sheikh Sajib are also working with students of BKSP.
“We just need the technical support from the federation, which can provide us high-profile coaches to groom players, who are mostly indigenous people” said Quantum coach Shihabur Rahman. “I believe those indigenous archers can outshine others if they get high-performance training.”
However, there is still a big portion of the clubs and districts, who are really struggling to provide archers those expensive instruments.
“I have bought 11 beginner bows for recurve archers with own cost,” said Md Saifuddin, manager of Rajshahi ST archery club. “I know there is no return of this investment but the satisfaction is that I feel really good when the boys and girls get chances in the national team as well as get jobs in different services teams.”
Rajshahi ST archery club president Azizur Rahman Bachchu said that they run the archery camp round the year with the participation of 60 archers but the lack of instruments hinders their training.
Abul Kashem Mamun, the national archer who qualified for the compound semifinal in November's Asian Archery Championships, conducts training in his own district, Narail, with the help of BAF general secretary Kazi Rajib Uddin Ahmed Chapol. Narail is the biggest provider of archers in the national pipeline.
“It would not have been possible to produce archers in Narail had the BAF general secretary not extended his helping hand. There are some 60 budding archers in Narail but they can't practice regularly due to the lack of instruments and coaches. I train those boys when I'm in Narail. I study in Jessore and spend most of my time in national camp,” said Mamun, who believes if each national player has his own instruments, their performance could increase significantly.
However, there was a positive vibe during the championship.
“Archery is in good state now as some good archers from Narail, Faridpur, Chittagong and Rajshahi came into the limelight through the NSC talent hunt program. Ety Khatun is really a good find. Her score and playing style are really good. She has all the qualities to be become a good archer,” said Sajjaz.