The incredible cheers that exploded at the Kamalapur stadium after Anai Mogini’s long-ranger beat India goalkeeper, it just represents the desire to be proud of sporting excellence the sports-crazy nation.
The fans’ longing was fulfilled when they witnessed the young girls make laps around the Birshreshtha Shaheed Mostafa Kamal Stadium with the national flag after retaining the SAFF U-19 Women’s Championship title, with the players’ roar only drowned out by the even clamorous and enthusiastic crowd.
In a year that offered very little takeaway from the sporting arena, it was those moments gifted by the young women footballers that certainly lifted the nation’s spirit. And also when news broke out that Nigar Sultana and Co will be heading to New Zealand next year to represent the country in their maiden ODI World Cup,
there was much to be proud of.
Be it in cricket, football or any other sport, undoubtedly, it was the women’s accolades that presented the very few celebratory moments to the country’s sports lovers.
How incredible were the achievements of the likes of Mogini, Maria Manda, Jahanara and Sharmin can be gauged from facts that these girls flourished despite minimal resources, severe infrastructural scarcity and under boards that kept on hitting new lows throughout the year.
No doubt, the ever-glorified men’s sides, especially the considerably privileged men’s cricket team, also offered fans plenty of moments to cherish. But unfortunately, those only ended up serving a false impression of success that only culminated in providing the country its biggest sporting disappointment this year —
banishment from the UAE without a single win in the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup.
Even the story of men’s football team entails a similar sorry story. Jamal Bhuiyan and Co failed to make a mark in the World Cup qualifiers in Qatar and was subjected to agonising last-minute exits from the SAFF Championship and the Four Nations Trophy in Sri Lanka.
However, at least the male athletes will have some explanation for their apparent dismal year — that they gave their best out on the field. But the governing bodies of the two most popular sports will probably have very little to say in their defence.
While the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) ended the better part of the year without a static coaching panel, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) kept on setting hilarious examples.
From their penchant of not addressing the elephant in the room — the country’s fragile domestic structure the case in point — to playing the blame game after every debacle, the Nazmul Hassan-led BCB ended the year with another farce.
The cricket’s governing body of Bangladesh offered yet another shambolic players’ draft of the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).
And in the chaotic fashion that the tournament started, with BCB being forced to take over one of the ownership at the eleventh hour after failing to secure a franchisee, only promises that Bangladesh’s already struggling domestic cricket awaits yet another disappointing start to the next year as the cracks in the frail system
only keep widening.
There were, however, rays of hope in a few other less appreciated sports. Ruman Sana and Diya Siddique secured silver medal in the recurve mixed team event of the Archery World Cup while Diya and Hakim Ahmed Rubel bagged silver for the first time ever in the prestigious Asian championships.
Also, once a leading sport, hockey returned to the turf after a three-year hiatus through the Club Cup and Premier League before Bangladesh successfully hosted the prestigious Asian Champions Trophy for the first time.
But still, as the clock ticks down on 2021, it certainly is the girls’ achievements that will remain the highlight of the year. The ambition now will be that the sports which made strides keep on achieving new heights. And also that the two elite sporting entities of the country inject themselves with the similar spirited attitude
shown by the girls and, like them, thrive despite the setbacks.
-With The Daily Star input