Bashundhara surprise | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 13, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 13, 2009

Bashundhara surprise

Bashundhara Group chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan (2nd from L) exchanges files with BFF president Kazi Salahuddin as NSC chairman and Army Chief Gen Moeen U Ahmed (C), BFF senior vice-president Abdus Salam Murshedi (R) and BFF member Golam Rabbani Helal (L) look on at the Kurmitola Golf Club yesterday. Photo: STAR

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Everyone was in for a big surprise at yesterday's press conference at the Kurmitola Golf Club (KGC), organised by the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) to confirm a deal worth Tk 4.5 core with Bashundhara Group.
The amount for three years for the district leagues itself is a handsome deal but when Bashundhara announced that it would also provide two grounds for the BFF worth Tk 200 crore, it turned out to be an astonishing news for a federation that was struggling for survival just a year ago.
The BFF and Bashundhara signed an MoU under which the BFF would get Tk 1.5 crore per year for the development of football at district levels in order to revitalise the game from its grassroots. The agreement will be signed within a few days.
Bashundhara chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan and BFF president Kazi Salahuddin signed on behalf of their organisations at the venue.
"I have completely forgotten the monetary part of the contract when I heard that we will be getting two new grounds. It's truly amazing and nothing can be a bigger contribution to sport than this. We will try and make one into a mini stadium with a capacity of 15,000 and the other ground into an academy training ground where there will be some living arrangements for players to stay temporarily," said Salahuddin.
Bashundhara, one of the largest entrepreneurial groups of the country, wants to develop football from its very root and this was the primary reason behind their initiative.
"I remember when we were growing up, we used to stand in long queues to watch players like Salahuddin play, but I do not see that nowadays which is very disheartening.
Therefore, I think it is my duty to do something for the game and I strongly believe that football is under the right leadership in Bangladesh," said Sobhan.
The BFF chief was grateful to the corporate giants and discussed the increased need for laying a solid foundation for football in the country.
"When we form the national team, we want players from all corners of the country and to do that we need to spread the sport to all districts, unions and upazilas. This contract will enable us to do exactly that and in the long run we will see that players are coming from all parts of the nation," said Salahuddin while describing the bondage.
Out of the two pieces of land that Bashundhara will provide, one will be in the Bashundhara residential area near Baridhara while the other is on the southern side of River Buringanga (Riverview project).
"I first want to thank Bashundhara for coming forward to sponsor football at the district level where there was almost no football in organised form due to lack of sponsorship and I hope district football will again get its life back through this sponsorship," said Salahuddin, who has been working relentlessly to give football a right direction.
The lands which BFF will be granted are estimated at a value of above Tk 200 crore with the residential area ground being targeted as the BFF training ground and the Riverview land has been planned for the mini stadium.
National Sports Council chairman (NSC) and Army Chief General Moeen U Ahmed, who was also present, told during the signing ceremony that football was born again in Bangladesh through last month's Citycell Super Cup and the players and crowds are starting to enjoy the game although more work needs to be done.
"I have seen great excitement amongst the players and the public about football recently and I would like to see this kind of excitement on a more national and international level. And, there is no doubt that our country's football needs a permanent training facility. My aim as the chairman of NSC is to maximise facilities for all sports bodies," said Gen Moeen.

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