The Bangladesh women’s youth handball team will fly to India today with the aim of gaining experience more than anything else in the 8th Asian Women’s Youth Championship, which will be held in Jaipur from August 21 to 30.
Bangladesh are participating in this event for only the second time – the first since hosting it in 2000 –and it is a case of learning the game by brushing shoulders with some tough opponents for the 14-member team, with five officials in company.
Although the championship offers four slots for the Women’s Youth World Championship to be held in France next year, with two teams from each of the two groups to qualify, the Bangladesh team are only aiming for a respectable show in this event.
Bangladesh have been pitted in Group A of this championship, alongside strong opponents such as South Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei and lightweights Uzbekistan. Group B features India, China, Kazakhstan, Nepal and Mongolia.
The Bangladesh team management feel that they have been handed a very tough group, where their only realistic chance of winning a match is against Uzbekistan.
“Had we been in Group B, we would have had teams like Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Nepal who are similar in strength to us. But in our group, we can hope to do well against Uzbekistan while the other three teams are very strong,” Bangladesh team coach Tauhidul Alam Sohel told reporters at a press conference at the Bangladesh Handball Federation (BHF) yesterday.
The team captain Kolpona Akter, however, was optimistic about giving their best shot. “We will play against some tough teams but we are not weak either. If they have got two hands to play, we too have two hands,” she said.
The Bangladesh team, comprising under-17 players who were selected from a pool of 70 players initially chosen from last year’s Bangladesh Youth Games, have had one month’s training for this event. The women in red and green will start their campaign on August 21 against seven-time champions South Korea before playing against Japan, Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan on August 23, 25 and 26 respectively in the group stage. However, they will get to play classification matches after that.
The team will return on August 31.