Officials of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) and other federations expressed their hope of playing in the final of their respective disciplines in the upcoming 13th South Asian Games during a seminar yesterday.
The seminar, titled ‘SA Games: Bangladesh’s expectations and reality’, and organised by the Bangladesh Sports Press Association (BSPA), was held at the conference room of the National Sports Council (NSC).
Bangladesh, with a contingent of 591 members including both players and officials, will take part in 25 out of 27 disciplines in the biggest multi-sport festival of South Asia, to be held in Nepal from December 1 to 10.
Although Bangladesh won only four gold medals in the last edition in 2016, expectations are high this time, especially after it was learned that India, the sporting superpower of the region, may not take part in at least 10 disciplines.
BFF general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag, while speaking as a guest, expressed hope that Bangladesh would at least play for the gold medal in the men’s football event.
“We hope to play in the final. Our team will be comprised of 17 players from the national team and we will start preparations in two days,” Shohag said, adding that India’s likely absence will make it easy for Bangladesh to reach the final.
BCB selector Habibul Bashar, who has been given the charge of manager of the men’s cricket team, said they were looking to win the gold.
“We were told by the board to form a team to win the gold medal. Our emerging team is currently playing a tournament. We will start training soon and hope to win gold. Playing in a multi-sport games will be a different experience for us,” Bashar said.
Apart from these two disciplines, hopes are high in events such as archery, shooting, kabaddi, etc. There were promises of gold and medals of other colours from officials of taekwondo, cycling, weightlifting, etc., even though officials of two of the most important disciplines of the games -- athletics and swimming -- were not present at the seminar.
More than expectations though, there was expressions of frustration and disappointment from the speakers as Bangladesh have been consistently falling behind other countries in most of the disciplines. The sorry picture was depicted by keynote speaker Badiuzzaman Milon, a senior reporter of Daily Prothom Alo, before the other speakers deliberated on salient points and recommendations of the paper.
Mahfuza Khatun Shila, a double gold-medallist swimmer from the last edition who will participate this time as the country’s flag-bearer in opening ceremony, said more needs to be done to ensure the well-being of athletes’ in their post-career lives.
Journalists stressed on the need for better training facilities and better nutrition and diet of athletes to ensure better results from them while the need to look into the expenditures of federations was also stressed upon.
The seminar was attended, among others, by NSC secretary Masud Karim, BOA vice-president Bashir Ahmed, BOA treasurer Kazi Rajibuddin Ahmed and Bangladesh SA Games’ contingent’s chef de mission Asaduzzaman Kohinoor.