Country's top footballers playing the professional football league are likely to be allowed to take part in the Sher-e-Bangla National Football Championship, which is all set to return after a nine-year hiatus.
The championship involving 64 district teams, which was last held in 2006, was once the most popular tournament across the country after now-defunct Dhaka Premier League, but it went into the freezer soon after the introduction of the Professional Football League in 2007.
The Kazi Salahuddin-led committee of Bangladesh Football Federation did not pay much attention to revive the national football championship either in their first four-year tenure, but the BFF boss is finally intent on reviving the championship with assistance from Sheikh Jamal DC president Manjur Kader, who is also the president of District Football Association's league committee.
The game's governing body is now funding the District Football Associations (DFA) to run the district football league, which has featured 39 districts. The return of the district football league has virtually inspired the DFA League Committee to organise the national football championship and the national under-19 football championship.
“Frankly speaking, I have returned to football after a long gap and I felt there is no alternative but to pay attention to the district level football in order to produce a footballers like Kazi Salahuddin, (Sheikh Mohammad) Aslam, Enayet (Hossain), (Ashraful Uddin Ahmed) Chunnu,” said Kader.
“The Sher-e-Bangla Cup and the Suhrawardi Cup (under-19) were once the two most popular tournaments from where a lot of players emerged. Besides, both these tournaments had created great enthusiasm at district level. I believe there is no alternative to district football if we want to develop country's football. It is not possible to develop football from Dhaka only,” said the veteran organiser.
The DFA League Committee will sit in a meeting on August 3 to discuss about the ongoing district leagues and finalise the dates for the national football championship and the national u-19 football championship, which may get underway in the latter part of September.
“We want to hold both the tournaments after the completion of the professional league so that the players of Bangladesh Premier League can play for their respective district teams, which will definitely increase the attraction of the championship,” said Kader.
According to BFF officials, a total of 50 districts sent their entries for the national football championship and 42 districts showed their interest to participate in the national under-19 championship. The BFF expects 60-team participation in each championship.