Swapnachura girls make their way over the haor to the football field for practice
Swapnachura girls make their way over the haor to the football field for practice Prothom Alo

Midfielder Tama Rani Das walks from the village Bhangadohar in Dirai upazila of Sunamganj to Borhanpur Khoaghat every morning.

From there, she and her teammates Mou, Polly and Liza board a boat. After an hour, they reach the Baram haor (wetland) on Dhal Road in Dirai town and then take a rickshaw or 'easybike' to the football field for practice.

Defender Bonya Sutradhar's house is in Tuk Dirai village. She has to cross the Kalni River to come to the football field. And Rani Das has to cycle 9km every day to join the practice.

They live in the immensely beautiful haor area, with water and greenery all around. But they hardly take in the scenic beauty of their surroundings. These young girls are passionate about their sport. All they love is playing football.

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The struggling people of haor regularly suffer from various disasters but manage to turn around every time. The 'Swapnachura Football Academy' of these girls is no exception. This academy is now a dream come true for this group of teenagers.

This academy is for girls from different villages of the haor region of Dirai upazila in Sunamganj. Overcoming all sorts of obstacles and social barriers, as well as the choppy waves of the haor, these girls come to the football field every morning at seven to practice.

All tensions and hardship are insignificant to them. This is a lesson one can indeed learn from these teenagers.

Their dreams of playing football could well have ended then and there. But the girls did not give up and started playing with more enthusiasm than before.

Coach Rakib Ahmed is leading this dream journey for the girls. He founded the academy in April last year.

In March, the Swapnachura Academy team came to Dhaka to play in the women’s league. But due to certain conflicts and differences, Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) did not allow them to play. When the girls came back to Sunamganj, they had to face a lot of criticism.

Their dreams of playing football could well have ended then and there. But the girls did not give up and started playing with more enthusiasm than before. The Dirai girls love football so much that even the scorching heat of the sun, the rain and storms cannot stop their daily practice.

Last year, Sunamganj became the district champion in the Bangamata U-17 National Football Tournament. Out of the 18 players off the winning team, 14 were from the Swapnachura Football Academy. Sylhet even became runner-up in the divisional stage of the tournament with these girls.

Currently, Rakib is training 35 footballers of the academy free of cost. The practice sessions take place every day at 8am on the site of the proposed Sheikh Russel Mini Stadium in Dirai. The academy has a small camp next to the field. Rakib pays the Tk 3000 monthly rent for the camp.

“After coming back from Dhaka the girls were criticised. Many people spoke against them to their parents and discouraged them to send the girls to the field. I went to their houses and explained the matter to the parents. They now regularly come to the field,” the coach said.

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The girls regularly participate in the tournaments that take place on the Dirai grounds. Last year, girls from Narayanganj, Chattogram, Rangamati, Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Habiganj districts played in this field.

On 26 September the girls played friendly matches against teams from Nandail and Mymensingh.

The field, however, is not in a good condition. It doesn't have grass in many patches and was even inundated with water during the last floods. Even a little rain causes muddy water to gather there.

Despite all these hurdles, the girls still dream of playing for the national team.

It is very difficult to play here, the field is not good. Sometimes rain disrupts are matches, they said. They are going through all this, just to play in the national team one day.

These girls want to reach the peak of their football career. They want to play in the women’s league and in the national team.

No hurdle can dampen their their dreams.