Our expectations in the 13th Asian games
The 13th South Asian Games aka SA Games have begun yesterday at Kathmandu in Nepal. Bangladesh will be taking part with a strong 462 member contingent with the hope of improving her rather dismal standing of fifth place from the last outing in Shillong, India, in 2016. Bangladesh's best record in the regional games was third in the medals table, in 1985 and 2010, both times when we were the hosts.
Obviously, the hosts are always the favourites in their own country but when there are sporting giants like Pakistan and India, going beyond third position is tough.
However, it's not impossible. In the last outing in India, Bangladesh slumped to fifth in the medals table and so, this time, the main task of the whole team will be to bring back better results. The Bangladesh contingent's chef de mission has expressed hopes of taking the gold medal haul to double digits though this will get stiff challenge from hosts Nepal, who would want to be right after India and Pakistan. The hopes of Bangladesh are on archery, cricket, swimming and of course football -- though the last discipline has lost much of its lustre after the SA Games were restricted to Under-23 or the Olympic sides.
The main draw of the tournament, football, will still pull crowds though the craze of the past will be missing due to the absence of full-fledged national teams.
India, arguably the football giants in the region, are not sending their team which takes away lot of the excitement though the chances of Bangladesh winning the gold become brighter. The games provide an excellent chance for athletes and sportsmen of the region to get together, compete and cement the regional ties. In a time when the world is seeing too much polarization, conflict and strife, regional unity is of the essence to ward off discord, ill will and antagonism.
Countries of South Asia have many similarities in cuisine, culture plus social ethos and, as several nations are steadily developing into economic powers, ties need to be strengthened to ensure a regional identity. Through sports and the games, the nations can also declare their united stand against terrorism, dogmatism plus ethnic tensions. We hope the SA Games in Nepal will be a scintillating spectacle and Bangladesh will come back with commendable records.