The dilapidated image of Bangladesh National Football Team
The condition of football in Bangladesh is indubitably deplorable. From international to regional to national level, team Bangladesh is facing a myriad of problems. Bangladesh football team that could once inundate the net of opposition like Nepal, Maldives or Bhutan with goals now struggle to win and in many cases succumb to defeat against those minor teams.
It is hard to believe that Bangladesh is miserably failing to pick up glorious eleven among 170 million people to fight in full strength. Amid such dismal state, Bangladesh must wake up in 2018 to save football. The already dilapidated condition of football in Bangladesh is further exacerbated when Team Bangladesh does not play a single international match in 2017, let alone competing equally and wining valiantly.
Against such backdrop, the vision to qualify in world cup in 2022 is blatantly a forlorn hope. Bangladesh now savours of disgraceful 192nd place in world ranking followed by some unknown island countries. In fact, Bangladesh is unabatedly rushing to the bottom of the list since this century. Back in 2015, India stood 173rd in the world ranking. Due to whole-hearted efforts, India bounced back in two years with decent 105th position as of December 2017. Who knows how to restrain such colossal downward trend of Team Bangladesh?
Rampant change in coaches and misunderstanding between coach and the federation add fuel to flame. The situation is so wretched that the federation has changed nine coaches in less than a decade. Even the newly appointed coach along with his staffs has no assignment to accomplish in six months except watching domestic league and nurturing age-based teams.
Besides, the condition of Bangabandhu National Stadium is shabby and far beyond the international standard in terms of basic amenities. People can hardly remember when this stadium was full to the brim last. Back in eighties and nineties, even domestic matches could generate so much hype among football enthusiasts that they flocked in a substantial number. Ironically, now the international matches cannot draw adequate attention.
The domestic league is also undergoing surmounting hardship. Bangladesh Football Federation could not finish the seventh edition of professional premier league for session 2016-17 while starting league for the session 2017-18 seems a distant future. The degrading quality of the tournament, abject performance of the players, dearth of viewers, lack of sponsors and aversion of clubs and federation have darkened the domestic league in entirety.
For aforementioned reasons, the domestic league has lost its attraction and attention. Without safeguarding the domestic league, Bangladesh will never attain excellence in international arena. China has outlined the groundbreaking plan to achieve the championship of FIFA world cup by 2050 by making 50,000 football academies with the capacity of 1000 young players on average in each and thus producing 50 million competent players to flourish in the international football.
Sooner or later, China is bound to thrive with its rigorous attempt. Following the footsteps of China, Bangladesh must set the targets to eliminate or at least diminish the deteriorating quality of football. Unless concerted efforts are made in 2018, football Bangladesh may reach its nadir, making imminent the death of quality football.
Therefore Bangladesh Football Federation must envision feasible strategies in 2018 to rejuvenate the fascinating past. For this, BFF must launch creative talent hunt program to unmask the latent brilliance. Besides, sincerely culturing the age-based teams should be of paramount importance. More importantly BFF should facilitate rigorous training session for national players to augment their physical strength and moral courage. Last not the least, BFF must venture to attract massive crowd both in the domestic and international matches. For that quality football will work as an impetus for spectators to gather in the stadium.
Despite all the despair, female national football team is still anchoring the splendid past of football to the international arena. For this, the federation must nurture the team dynamically, thus paving the way for elevating the damaged status and shattered prestige of Bangladesh football team. Salute to those glorious players!
The writer is studying at Department of Economics, University of Dhaka