Cynics say that to the authorities concerned sports development means making more infrastructure in the country, regardless of whether existing ones are properly used or not.
It hardly matters if there are any sports activities taking place at the existing venues; we just need more stadiums. They also say sports in Bangladesh means sports "in Dhaka". The cynical view, unfortunately, is not far from reality as Barishal – once a rich sporting centre of the country -- has now become a city without any sports activities.
And the forlorn state of the Shaheed Abdur Rob Serniabat Stadium mirrors the poor state of sports affairs in Bangladesh's south-central city.
"There are no leagues, no tournaments and a lack of facilities and patronage, hence the current sordid picture is to be expected. In the 1970s and 80s there were a lot of competitions between schools, clubs and all those are just memories now. There was a time when sports events were the talk of the town. Many grew up here and went on to serve the nation," Shubhankar Chakraborty, a member of Barishal's oldest club `Nabajagoron Club', told The Daily Star.
Almost everyone blamed lack of local competitions behind the sorry state of sports in Barishal and they also said the sports body elections have not been held for the last 17 years.
Some organisers said that the 25,000-capacity Shaheed Abdur Rob Serniabat Stadium, which was established in 1963 on 29 acres of land as the Barishal Stadium and renovated in 2006 at a cost of around Tk 23 crore, has been idle due to lack of activities.
"There has been no cricket league since 2018. The first division cricket league was held in 2018 and the second division league in 2013-14. How can you make good players and encourage boys to play the game?" asked cricket coach Tasrikul Islam.
"See, there is tall grass and you cannot practice. There are almost 500 cricket players in the first division, second division and level one but they have no practice facilities. Players are demoralised as there are no competitions," said coach Ibrahim Khalil.
"New players are hungry to play. [Bangladesh batsman] Fazle Mahmud Rabbi caught everyone's attention from this field first through the `Jubo Sanga'. He later became a national player and [national pacer] Kamrul Islam Rabbi also came up from this very field. Besides, there are also a few other players who benefited from playing local leagues, but now no sports activities take place here," Rakib Hawlader, a 19-year-old first-division cricketer, said.
"We are just losing interest," Limon, another cricket player, added.
"The leagues are suspended for the last six-seven years. The under-19 match against Sri Lanka in 2019 was the first international match in this cricket stadium. The main reason for the stagnation is not playing leagues, weak infrastructure, lack of patronisation and no elected committee," said cricket coach Ejaj Al Mahmoud Sujan.
Once there was huge enthusiasm as different clubs like Nabajagoron club, Four H Club, Nazrul Library, Kirtankhola Academy, Bhutto Smriti Sangsad, Bround Compound Sabuj Academy, Jordan Social Welfare Council, Arunodaya Club, etc. were very active, but everything has died down.
"Floodlights were installed in the stadium in 2008 but there was no use for it," coach Mahamudul Haider Tamim said.
Mahabub Morshed Shamim, additional general secretary, district sports association, said although there is some practice of cricket held here, that has not been the case for other sports for a long time.
Nuru Hossain Nuru, the secretary of the district sports association, passed away a year and a half ago, and from then it was not possible to organise any tournaments from them.
No election has been held here for at least 17 years, he added.
SM Ajiar Rahman, deputy commissioner, Barishal, and president of the district sports association, said no game was being played because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, if the coronavirus situation improves, he said they would try to introduce the leagues. Although there is no elected committee here, they are taking care of the region's sports on an ad hoc basis, he added.