Professional football has resumed in different parts of the world in the new normal but it is uncertain when football will recommence in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) already closed the 2019-20 season without completing the major leagues due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. As the days progress, the situation is becoming dreadful for many football professionals for whom the sport is their bread and butter.
Similar to the difference in terms of payment between top players and the rest, of whom the number is huge, there are also differences between some top-ranked coaches and the others. While the top coaches were bemoaning missing out on their professional activities, the rest were crying for their livelihood.
Only a few top coaches [only seven local coaches out of 13 clubs work in the Bangladesh Premier League] receive handsome payments from the BPL outfits each season but the rest in other leagues get insignificant payments and they have to bank on coaching different teams of different leagues in a single season to secure their livelihoods. But the fallout from the Covid-19 outbreak has put them in dire straits.
"We are also losers, but a bit lucky to receive a few instalments of the contracts before the cancellation of the league. The big damage is that I can't train players. Coaching is a spiritual matter for me and coaching players is bigger than money for me," said Sheikh Russel KC coach Saiful Bari Titu.
"Coaches sometimes face such situations when they are terminated or can't get any suitable contract in a season. As a coach, I want to see this gap as a usual one. I think the players are in bigger trouble than coaches, not only financially but also performance-wise, with no game for nearly four months," said Sheikh Jamal coach Shafiqul Islam Manik.
"I don't know what I would have done if I was not paid 50 per cent of my agreed amount two weeks before the league was suspended in the middle of March," said Muktijoddha Sangsad coach Abdul Kaiyum Sentu. "But I am missing the coaching."
But the tales of the other less fortunate coaches have a different tone altogether. "Everything went wrong after the cancellation of the season. Like me, many professional coaches cover family expenses. I have earned only Tk 70,000 this year by coaching an Army team in Cumilla for one month and now I am running my family with support from my brothers," said Masud Ahmed Jahangir.
Coach Rezaul Haque Jamal said: "I don't know anything other than coaching football, so it is tough to change profession after 20 years. It is our bread and butter. We are often deprived of payments as per contracts but still continue because of our love towards this game."
Jamal said that his closest friends from home and aboard were helping financially as he could not earn anything this season, although last season he earned about Tk 2 lakh from a BCL team.
"The coaches are not paid well in the lower divisions and professional coaches have to work for two or three clubs of different leagues each season to run the family. Coronavirus shattered all my plans this season. Now it is very tough to survive in such a situation," Monowar Hossain Moina, who received 20 percent of his contract from Youngmen's Fakirerpool Club despite the cancellation of BCL.
Moina added that he sought financial help from relatives and friends to meet his family's expenses. Moina and Jamal were frustrated due to the lack of initiative from BFF to help struggling coaches when the Bangladesh Cricket Board, Bangladesh Hockey Federation and many other federations have come forward to help their respective players and coaches who are suffering financially.