Salahuddin kept the ball rolling round the year | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 01, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 01, 2010

Personality of The Year 2009

Salahuddin kept the ball rolling round the year

He was an unparalleled performer of his generation as a player; the success embraced him even when he made a brief entry into a coaching career. Afterwards he stayed away from the game he loved most for quite a long time, but again he came back to his beloved game and this time he is showing his amazing capacity as an organiser. This man is none other than Kazi Salahuddin, the president of Bangladesh Football Federation.
Country's top-scorer Salahuddin took over the helm at a time when the game of football was living on life-support and the former Bangladesh international made an announcement to keep football on the field around the year. To keep his promise he did the most urgent thing -- to amass money through roping in mobile company Citycell with a record sponsorship deal in the country's football history that virtually indicated that the popularity of football is still alive among sponsors and general people, but that there was just a lack of a visionary man like Salahuddin.
To revive the country's about-to-die football and bring back its past glory, he took some initiatives that actually indicated what were waiting for country's domestic football, but probably no one dared to imagine that a one-crore taka cash prize Citycell Super Cup would be introduced.
Nevertheless, the introduction of a Super Cup has brought huge enthusiasm among players, organisers and spectators and thus almost every match of the inaugural Super Cup pulled off a healthy crowd and finally a 35,000-capacity Bangabandhu National Stadium watched the classical final between two perennial foes Abahani and Mohammedan that recalled memories of golden time of country's football in 80s and 90s. The introduction of Super Cup also makes the professional football league competitive this time as only a certain number of teams will be allowed for the second Super Cup.
Under his dynamic leadership, the inter-club players' transfer also took place on time with the players receiving record money this time and it was only possible after the successful end of Super Cup that actually boosted the clubs financially.
Salahuddin was not only spending time on how to revive country's football, he also returned 37 years back to recognise his warriors, who together fought in different way under the banner of the Swadheen Bangla Football Dal (SBFD) during Bangladesh's War of Liberation in 1971.
Though the SBFD got accolades from different organisations, but not from the Football Federation, which finally arranged to give those football war heroes due respect and reception at a time when Salahuddin, who refused to live a posh life in England during the Liberation War rather choosing to be a part of the war through playing football in India, is its president.
As the president of the game's governing body, everyone expected Salahuddin to be on stage, but he chose to sit with his comrades and took certificate and crest like others from the chief guest. The Federation also laid a plaque dedicated to the SBFD at the BFF House.
Salahuddin knows it very well that Bangladesh's football will not go far if the subcontinent's football does not progress and he first felt a change was needed in the regional body of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF), which virtually remained inactive under the leadership of Ganesh Thapa for years. And, Salahuddin with unanimous support from all eight member nations assumed the hot seat of the SAFF replacing Thapa and announced to introduce five more competitions instead of holding the lone tourney of the SAFF Championship and it definitely will open a new horizon for football in the subcontinent.
After the inaugural AFC Challenge Cup, organised by the Asian Football Confederation, in Bangladesh in 2006, Bangladesh also witnessed two international tournaments -- the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers where Bangladesh advanced into the finals and the SAFF Championship where Bangladesh were eliminated from the semifinals -- in the same year and it was possible for the vibrant leadership of Salahuddin.
The sacking of national team's Brazilian coach Edson Silva Dido, over a row with his youthful selection for the SAFF Championship was a black chapter for Salahuddin though the BFF boss thought it was a decision of the BFF executive committee.
"The BFF is a democratic organisation and you must give importance to democracy, which sometimes brings the right decision and sometimes the wrong and you will have nothing to do when majority of the executive committee wants something," said Kazi Salahuddin when asked whether the decision of terminating Edson Silva Dido was wrong.
Though the football federation rolls out the professional football league regularly, they are still struggling to roll other competitions such as Senior, Second, Third and Pioneer Leagues citing lack of grounds though there was no sign from the game's governing body to find out a ground for those tournament.
However, at the end of the year, the BFF, who left their hope of getting Sylhet BKSP for football academy, finally got promise from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to allot the BKSP to produce future booters.
"I really feel good when a big newspaper like The Daily Star recognises my work and it will inspire me more in future. It is a great honour to me," said Salahuddin when informed that The Daily Star Sport has adjudged him the sports personality of the year.
"I will try my best to keep your faith in 2010 through my activities," promised the BFF boss.

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