Passionate fans, not so passionate organisers
After a captivating five days of Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) cricket, fans in Sylhet will return to their usual mundane lives without the slightest knowledge of another sporting festival for the foreseeable future.
The sport-loving fans in the eastern headquarters of the country made it quite an occasion when the glamorous domestic T20 competition hit the city for the first time. They turned up in droves to every game and cheered their home team Sylhet Sixers, who also made memorable a debut in the fifth edition of the slam-bang T20 competition.
The banners and posters of the seven participating teams, which are on display on the streets of the city, might be there for another few days. But the most disappointing aspect is that there is nothing on offer from the local organisers for any domestic cricket or football event round the year, let alone any international tournament.
The last time a major sporting event was held in Sylhet was the SAFF Under-16 football tournament last year, which also generated huge enthusiasm.
But since then there has not been much to talk about and there were hardly any activities from the local organisers to arrange leagues and tournaments regularly. Interestingly, the two main venues -- the Sylhet District Stadium and the Sylhet International Stadium -- are destined to remain idle throughout the year.
The First Division Cricket League started in March this year after a gap of two years. Unfortunately, it is yet to be completed. The First Division Football League was last held in 2014. Here everything is arranged on ad-hoc basis. The district sports association has an ad-hoc committee, which has been running the show since 2014. Funnily, it is to yet form a full-fledged committee.
Sylhet produced some fine cricketers and footballers in the past but the lack of domestic competitions has virtually stopped the flow of young talents.
"Players only played three matches in the league, which is not sufficient for them. The league must be arranged with enough time and in a proper way for the betterment of the game," lamented Rezaul Karim Nachon, president of the Sylhet Cricketer's Association.
He also said that the age-level cricket of Sylhet is dependent on the academies, owing to which the player selection has been centralised when it needs to be open for all players.
According to former Bangladesh captain Rajin Saleh, who is also a local boy, efforts from the local organisers are few and far between to groom the grassroots players.
"I think it's the cricketing activities, not the infrastructure, that needs to improve in Sylhet and I think there is hardly any drive from the authorities to make that happen," Rajin told The Daily Star yesterday.
When contacted, Mahi Uddin Ahmed Selim, general secretary of Sylhet District Sports Association, said that having only one stadium meant that they could not arrange leagues for any sport.
"There is only one stadium in Sylhet where we arrange cricket, football, hockey and all others sports which is creating a huge pressure to arrange the leagues be it cricket or football," Selim said.
"We arranged school cricket last year at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium. If the authority allows us to arrange the cricket league in the divisional stadium, we can arrange football at the district Stadium", he added.
"I took a day off from work to watch the BPL game today as we hardly have any sporting events here in Sylhet. We don't even have any domestic games in Sylhet which is frustrating," said Abul Kalam, a car mechanic by profession.