After a five-year gap, Biman Bangladesh has returned to table tennis through participation in the 37th National Senior Table Tennis Championships, which got underway today at the Shaheed Tajuddin Ahmed Indoor Gymnasium.
Biman had not only refrained from forming teams in table tennis but also stopped participating in cricket, chess and badminton in 2011. However, the company has decided to return to country's sports arena to regain its image within the next two years.
Biman has formed good teams in both men's and women's sections, and the women's team comprising five-time champion Saleha Parvin has already qualified for the semifinals while the men's team comprising former national juniors and runners-up is also performing well.
Biman last became champions in national table tennis championship in 2007 while winning the Premier Division Table Tennis League a several times.
“Biman officially disassociated itself from sports in 2011, but I continued to patronise the table tennis team personally in the last five years. This time Biman has officially decided to associate itself with sports and we have formed good teams in both men's and women's group,” said coach-cum-coordinator captain Maqsood Ahmed yesterday.
“The chairman of Biman Board and its managing director are interested in sports. So Biman has returned to table tennis and will form teams in chess and badminton even though it may not be able to form a cricket team because of huge expense,” Maqsood said, adding that they are planning to provide jobs to players in line with their educational qualification.
Maqsood informed that they will pay monthly salary to the players apart from providing them sports kits and other facilities for training.
National player Mahbub Billah, who once played for Biman Bangladesh, welcomed the return of Biman.
“Biman's return to table tennis is a really positive sign for the game and it will not only increase competitions among the players but also encourage junior players to play for Biman,” said current national champion Mahbub, who is now playing for Bangladesh Army.
Some 240 players including 60 women from 45 teams are competing in seven separate events.