The low-key inspiration behind the U-16 revolution
As the whole nation unites in celebrating the glorious success of the Bangladesh girls in the AFC Under-16 Championship qualifiers that was capped off with an outstanding 4-2 win against Chinese Taipei at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Saturday, the creator of those enfants terribles Mohammad Mofizuddin said that he was very happy to have seen them flourishing.
“Seven of my nine students who are playing in the championship have called me today. They inquired about our preparation for the next Bangamata Gold Cup tournament. They also wanted to know about another batch of 16 players now participating in the Summer School Games [a nation-wide high-school tournament],” Mofizuddin told this reporter over phone today.
Mofizuddin is the mentor of the now famous girls, who have made it to the finals of the AFC U-16 Championship to be held in China next year by virtue of becoming Group C winners. It was him who started it all in the remote Kalsindur village, primarily convincing the parents of these girls to allow them to play football as part of the school’s preparation for the Bangamata Primary School Girl’s football tournament five years ago.
“When I started training them in 2011, I must admit that I did not harbour much hope,” said Mofizuddin. “But within one year I had high hopes for them and had a dream that the national team would be made up entirely of players from Kalsindur. But six of them played in the playing 11, and I am happy with that.”
These girls are not only kicking the ball now, they are simply blowing their opponents away with a brand of football that surprised more established teams like Iran and Chinese Taipei. These girls are now playing attractive and attacking football not because they have got modern facilities but because of the strong foundation laid by the little-known Mofizuddin, who is now working with a fresh batch of 33 girls to keep the pipeline running.
Asked if he had turned up at the Bangabandhu National Stadium to watch his students playing, he said: “I have watched the first two games from the stands.
“I have got a few tickets from the district sports association for the first game. And for the second game some officials supervising the gate were kind enough to let me in,” he said, adding that he enjoyed watching the other games with his new students at home.
“I have seen the last game on TV with my new student in our village. Actually we had to go to Shamsunnahar’s uncle’s home in Ranipur to watch the games live. The gathering was no less than 200-250 strong because this was the only television where we could get BTV World. And the atmosphere at times turned deafening especially when one of our school girls got the ball,” said Mofizuddin.
“The girls ring me whenever they get an opportunity,” said Mofizuddin, who prefers to maintain a low-key profile.