In a quest to gather new experience, the Bangladesh women's football team will leave for Thailand today to take part in the AFC Women's Futsal Championship, to be held from May 2 to 12.
A total of 15 nations including Japan, China and Thailand, split into four groups, will play five-a-side indoor football matches with the top two teams from each group advancing to the quarterfinals.
Bangladesh have been pitted against Malaysia, Vietnam and Chinese Taipei in Group B and they will play their first match against Malaysia on May 2. The second match against Vietnam and the third match against Chinese Taipei are scheduled to take place on May 3 and May 6 respectively.
“We have never played futsal at any level before. Playing such a type of football will be a new experience for the girls because it is a high intensity 40-minute game where only five players will play and there will be no limitation to substitutions,” explained coach Golam Rabbani Choton at a press conference yesterday.
There are usually special futsal teams for each nation, but Bangladesh do not have any such squad and the game's governing body is sending players who are regularly representing the country at football's age-level tournaments and the national team.
Out of the 42 players who have been in training round the year, the BFF picked 14 players with international experience. The only senior player in the side is Sabina Khatun while there are other good age-group players such as Krishna Rani, Sirat Jahan Swapna, Masura Parvin, Sanjida Akter, Sheuli Azim, Maria Manda, Mariza and Akhi Khatun.
“We have been preparing for this tournament since April 7 and I believe the girls will give their best to produce good results. We don't want to earn experience only, we also want to let others know about the rise of Bangladesh women's football,” said Choton.
Captain Sabina has experience of playing competitive futsal -- she played in the Maldives league -- but believes that playing a different format of football rather than the regular one is going to be tough for each of the players.