Since his time in third grade, Salman Ahmed had always dreamt of featuring in his school's football team for the Bangabandhu Gold Cup Primary School Football Tournament. Not only did that dream come true, the now fifth grade student has achieved something beyond his wildest imaginations.
Salman scored the winner for Sylhet's Haripur Govt. Primary School in a 1-0 triumph over Nilphamari's Dakkhin Kanialkhata Govt. Primary School in the tournament's final yesterday, delivering his team their first-ever trophy at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
Likewise, last edition's runners-up Panchrukhi Govt. Primary School of Mymensingh handed a 1-0 defeat to Lalmonirhat's Tepughari BK Govt. Primary School to secure their first-ever Bangamata Gold Cup Primary School Football Tournament trophy at the same venue.
“I dreamt of playing for my school since I was in third grade but I didn't get the chance due to the presence of the elder brothers of fifth grade. But I prepared myself for when I did get the chance and I have now finally taken part in the Bangabandhu Gold Cup this time,” Salman said. “It feels great that my school won because of my lone strike. I believed that I would score goals in the final.”
Following their third place finish in the second edition in 2011, Haripur have finally become champions in front of a full-house and coach Sharif Uddin gave credit to the sport-loving community of his area for this accomplishment.
“People in Jaintiapur are sports crazy. Many people came to the capital in a bid to watch the final despite not knowing whether they would be allowed to enter the stadium. The locals always helped during training. For the final round, we trained for a few months with the help of school teachers. So the schools from Jaintiapur often came to the final rounds,” said coach Sharif, who also plays for the Sylhet District team.
Meanwhile, Panchrukhi Primary School stole the show in the Bangamata Gold Cup, outshining their neighbours from Mymensingh at district level, Kalsindhur Govt. Primary School, who became renowned after a hattrick of titles led to national call-ups for many on the squad, however, they have since lost their edge.
Panchrukhi's Prome Akter scored the all-important goal in the second half but coach Mokbul Hossain claimed himself to be the key behind the school's success.
“I guided Kalsindur Primary School to title three times but I didn't get the honour I deserved from them. Two years ago, I started coaching Panchrukhi and made them runners-up in the last edition and now i have guided them to become champions,” said Mokbul, adding that they beat Kalsindur in last two editions.
Like it had been with Salman, participating in the Bangabandhu and Bangamata Gold Cup tournaments had become the stuff of dreams for young footballers, especially since they had to wait to secure places on their teams as the schools preferred to form squads with only fifth grade students to have equal competition.
Aside from the nearly 66,000 primary schools across the country, the two grassroots level tournaments have drawn much attention from school governing bodies as well as leaders of different divisions. The success the competitions have brought is evident with a closer look at the different zones.
Haripur is the third team from Jaintiapur Upazila of Sylhet to become champions following Nischintapur Non-Government Primary School and Korgram Govt. Primary School, who won the tournament in the first and sixth editions respectively. Cox's Bazar's Pakua Upazila is another place from where three separate schools have been crowned champions in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 editions.