Author Topic: Poor Man’s Banker now turns to women’s soccer in Bangladesh  (Read 878 times)

Offline David

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Kolkata, February 26: For a country steeped in social deprivation and neglect whenever it came to sports for women, launching something even close to a women’s football association was next to nothing. In neighbouring Bangladesh, some had even tried to launch one, but succumbed to pressure from fundamentalist groups.

The struggle however finally saw light recently, with the endeavours of top women footballers in the country, like Quamran Nahar Dana and Lily Aziz. Led by the duo’s efforts, the Bangladesh Women’s Football Association (BWFA) was formed in 2003. And to top it off, Newsline today learnt that Nobel laureate and Asia’s biggest sensation these days, Md Yunus, has vowed support to the four-year-old body on the financial front, according to Dana.

Since its inception, the BWFA kick-started separate Under-19 and U-17 teams, with as much as half the players representing the Muslim community.

The 15-member U-19 women’s team, which is presently in the city for the ongoing Indo-Bangla Games, has half its players from the Muslim community, while the rest of the contingent is from the pocket communities there like the Chakmas.

Throwing light on the women’s football scenario in Bangladesh these days, Dana told Newsline today: “Initially, it was really tough for us to convince Muslim girls and get them involved in the game of football. Amidst that, we used to constantly face threats from a fundamentalist group, asking us to stop. The situation has changed a lot now. When we started, we saw good responses from six districts. Today, it’s gone up to 10. We have participated in two editions of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) conducted international U-17 championships. What we need however is the support on the financial front for ground infrastructure and organisation.”

And in a bid to push their new projects, the BWFA has consulted Yunus. Dana explained: “I already an informal discussion with Mr Yunus regarding the development of women’s football in Bangladesh. As he is always sympathetic towards efforts to development women’s football, Mr Yunus has promised to organise necessary financial support. We are optimistic that he will provide patronage for women’s soccer in Bangladesh. He was the man who brought Zinedine Zidane to this country. He is also organising a trip to France for the junior boys’ team, slated to be announced soon.”

The BWFA is looking to start a national soccer tournament in Bangladesh this year, featuring 10 U-19 district teams. For this effort, too, the association is looking forward to the Nobel laureate’s support.