Ramshackle state of sports in Gaibandha
According to Sanaul Habib Sazzad, a district coach under the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), as many as 200 students had aspired to be cricketers under his guidance around two decades ago when he began training the Gaibandha youths. At present, the number of female students had shrunk from 15-20 to just one and the total to 60. The Daily Star's Mostafa Shabuj caught up with the veteran coach to know about the reasons behind the deterioration during an interview, the excerpts of which are as follows:
The Daily Star (DS): What's the state of Gaibandha district cricket's pipeline?
Sanaul Habib Sazzad (SHS): It's not as good as it used to be as we are losing students gradually.
DS: What are the reasons behind the decline?
SHS: The students and their corresponding guarding had basically lost interest in sports. Over time, students' interest areas jumbled into drug habits, addiction to cell phones and mostly, hanging out here and there in town. Plus, the ones in town remain occupied with extra private tuition while coaching classes in the afternoon prevents them from coming into the field. Around 10-15 years ago, we used to get students mostly from the town area but the scenario has changed. Now, among my 60 students, around 60 parents accompany them for practice and they come from the Upazila level and from the village areas.
DS: Are the district's ground facilities sufficient?
SHS: Playing grounds are available in Gaibandha's Upazila level and district town, and moreover, we also have the district stadium [Shah Abdul Hamid Stadium]. Unfortunately, I can't afford the Shah Abdul Hamid Stadium every day because it's occupied by private academy coaches and regularly hosts a lot of sporting activities.
DS: What facilities do you get from BCB?
SHS: 20 years ago, there were few facilities from BCB but the youths' interest in cricket had compensated things. Now despite BCB improving the facilities, the student crisis is far from being negated. Having said that, the fact that BCB provides 24 cricket balls, one catching bat and some pants and jersey for me, is not enough.
DS: As a BCB coach, what's your biggest crisis area?
SHS: As I said before, we are losing students day by day. Besides, the salary BCB provides us is quite poor. It's highly discriminating when I get paid BDT 18,100 per month while the division-level coaches get 54 thousand takas monthly salary. When the BCB has stopped incrementing salaries for a long time, how does a district coach run his family with this little? Even a peon of a government office gets more than us. I feel shy and awkward about revealing my salary to people.
DS: Why are players not coming for the national level from Gaibandha?
SHS: There are some students of mine who are playing in the age-level national teams but the main reason is: youths are losing their willpower. This will affect our country's sports, mainly in cricket, soon. If the guardians of the students do not motivate their child to engage in sports and if the students divert their enthusiasm to other activities, then how will we get good players for the country?