The dream comes true
Ever since Kazi Salahuddin became the president of Bangladesh Football Federation in April 2008, he nurtured a dream of building a football academy in the country. His dream came true yesterday with the inauguration of the BFF Academy in north-eastern city of Sylhet.
Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith launched the much-awaited academy amid a festive mood and promised to extend financial support to it from the government as much as they can in the future.
"The atmosphere here today proves how much we love football. These sports infrastructures of BKSP in this division were build long ago and I gave it to the BFF when Salahuddin approached me. Now I am happy to see it functional as a football academy. Why can't we take football forward? We can and must do it," said Muhith in his speech as the chief guest.
"I cannot give as much money as the BFF wants, but I will provide some of it for the development of the sport not only in Sylhet but across the country," promised the finance minister after Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, who attended the programme as a special guest, requested the finance minister to provide the BFF Tk 20 crore per year.
"I know why Salahuddin invited me here though my ministry has nothing to do with football. Bangladesh is making progress in every sector and a popular sport like football must move forward. If we can beat Australia, England and India in cricket, then why can't we do that in football? The young generation is being derailed due to lack sports facilities," said Tofail.
Earlier, in his welcome speech, Salahuddin thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the finance minister and FIFA president Sepp Blatter for their continues support towards the game.
"Only 70 per cent of the work of this academy has been completed and we now need financial backing from the government to finish it. Besides, we need Tk 4 crore a year to run the institution smoothly," Salahuddin said.
"I think just one per cent of the education or health budget can look after the young generation and keep them away from drugs or self-destructing activities. I strongly believe that sports are a very vital part of human life," said the BFF boss.
FIFA development officer Shaji Prabhakaran ensured that the game's world governing body would lay an astro-turf at the academy by May-June, subject to fulfilling the FIFA requirements.