After emerging as group champions in 2016 in the qualifying stage to advance into the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship, the Bangladesh women’s team have been dominating discussions through attractive performances on the ground.
The Bangladesh women’s football team, especially the U-15 and U-16 sides, kept up their brilliance to become champions in the SAFF U-15 Championship and again qualified for the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship, overcoming two barriers in the qualifying stage.
Those girls, who later featured in the U-18 team, continued to perform well and became champions in the SAFF U-18 Championship and drew more attention than any national men’s team.
But those girls faced stiff challenges beyond the subcontinent and had to contend with well-established teams in the AFC U-16 and U-19 Women’s Championships. In addition, the Bangladesh team -- comprising players from U-16 and U-19 levels along with a couple of senior players -- were also helpless against India and Nepal in the 2019 SAFF Women’s Championship.
Following their disappointment in higher-level competitions, long-standing demands from all corners to revive the women’s football league were heard. The girls needed a platform to mature and gain in experience and competitive matches in the domestic circuit would provide that because the women took part mostly in international tournaments on the back of only training and playing matches with each other.
It is also believed the revival of the women’s football league would assist the girls financially and less would drop out of football to get married early. It would also keep them sharp through the domestic league and they could carry on with their performances at the international level.
Finally, after a year-long discussion, the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) revived the women’s football league, which is scheduled to get underway from January 31.
Six unknown quantities will join Bashundhara Kings -- who signed 19 national players -- and FC Uttar Bango -- who roped in four national players -- will participate in the tournament.
The remaining teams have formed their squads with local girls who generally represent their respective districts in the JFA Cup U-16 tournament and the Bangamata Primary School tournament. This sadly meant that most of the players who have actively been in training camps under BFF supervision were ignored.
“Of the 56 players that were under BFF training round the year, 19 will play for Bashundhara Kings and four more will take part for FC Uttar Bango. They will get financial help from their respective clubs,” said national team head coach Golam Rabbani Choton.
He also informed that the best players like Marzia, Shamsunnahar Jr, Anuching Mogini, Anai Mogini, Ritu Porno Chakma, Sajeda and others were not getting opportunities to play the domestic league.
“I don’t think reviving the women’s football league will serve its purpose if all 56 players, who are the best players in the country and fit for matches, are not getting the chance to play,” Choton said, adding that he was confident no team pose offer a challenge to Bashundhara Kings.
BFF general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag said they had invited all clubs and DFAs to take part in the women’s league but they did not get a positive response.
“We have to start somewhere. Let’s see what happens in the future. Well-known clubs may participate in the future and that will strengthen the league. We also have plans to hold another league next September,” Shohag said.
However, some club officials, seeking anonymity, said that the timing of the women’s football league was a big hindrance to them, claiming they were running men’s football camps for the upcoming Bangladesh Premier League and could not run two camps at a time.