Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said her government is working to ensure sports for all, urging the football players to prepare themselves in such a way so they can play for the World Cup in the days to come.
“The world cup football tournament ended a few days back, but Bangladesh could not qualify for the tournament. I hope Bangladesh will play World Cup football in future and you (footballers) would have to prepare yourselves in such a way,” she said.
The prime minister said these while distributing trophies and prizes among runners-up and champions of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman National Gold Cup Football Tournament Boys Under-17-2022 and Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib National Gold Cup Football Tournament Girls Under-17-2022.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports has organised the programme at the Bangladesh Army Stadium in the capital city.
Referring to the participation of 110,552 boys and girls from upazilas, districts and national levels in the football tournaments, Sheikh Hasina said, “It’s a miracle. I think there is no country in the world where such a huge number of footballers took part in such tournaments.”
The prime minister said her government has been trying to encourage people in sports since assuming power for the first time after 21 years in 1996.
“Since we assumed office, our efforts have been to encourage our children more in football, cricket and other sports. The more of our children will engage themselves in sports the more benefit we will get,” she said.
Briefly describing her government’s measures taken for the overall development of sports, she said, “Our target is to ensure sports for all.”
Sheikh Hasina said 40 each boys and girls, taking part in the football tournaments, would be given training for three months at the Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishtan (BKSP) and some of them will be sent abroad for training to flourish their talents.
Bangladesh had achieved test status in cricket during the first tenure of her government, the prime minister recalled.
The prime minister went on saying that they tried to develop football and involve women in sports at that time.
After coming to the power for the second time in 2009, she said, referring to football tournaments named after Bangabandhu and Bangamata, since then the government has been arranging competitions from primary schools to high schools, colleges and university levels aimed at bringing out talents from the grassroots.
She said they have even encouraged the challenged people in sports and they have brought many international awards to the country.
Academies are being built alongside mini stadiums at every upazila across the country and stadiums at every district, she said, adding that stadiums have already been built in 56 districts across the country.
The prime minister also said they would establish BKSP in each division aimed at facilitating the sportsmen of each game with proper training, as she believes that Bangladesh has the capability to compete in the stage of world-standard sports.
Besides, she said they are building swimming pools, shooting ranges, kabadi and volleyball stadiums and sports complexes across the country aimed at reaching sports at the grassroots.
“We’re making such arrangements so that everyone at every place can take part in sports,” she said.
The prime minister said they also built the National Sports Council after enacting the necessary law in 2018.
Sheikh Hasina described herself as a member of a sports-loving family as her grandfather Sheikh Lutfur Rahman, father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and two brothers - Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Kamal - were footballers.
Recalling the contribution of Bangladesh’s founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to the development of sports, she said Bangabandhu gave permission to founding 18 sports federations and establishing sports councils in various districts in 1974.
The prime minister witnessed the second half of the girls’ final football match between the Rangpur Division and Khulna Division.
Sylhet Division has become back-to-back champions after defeating Barishal Division in penalty shootouts after the match that ended 1-1 draw in Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman National Gold Cup Football Tournament Boys Under-17.
In the boys’ tournament, Md. Saifur Rahman of Sylhet Division has become the man of the tournament while Md. Raju Miah of the same division was selected as the best player of the final match. Shahadat Ghazi of the Barishal division has become the top scorer while Md. Riaz of the same division has become the best goalkeeper.
Rangpur Division clinched the championship trophy defeating Khulna Division by 2-1 goals in the Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib National Gold Cup Football Tournament Girls Under-17.
In the girls’ football tournament, Kakoli of the Rangpur Division has become the woman of the tournament while Shanti Marji, Nasrin and Shammi Akhter of the same division have become the best players of the final match, best scorer and best goalkeeper respectively.
State Minister for Youth and Sports Md. Zahid Ahsan Russel, MP, presided over the function while Chief of Army Staff General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, president of the parliamentary standing committee on the Ministry of the Youth and Sports Abdullah Al Islam Jakob, and President of Bangladesh Football Federation Kazi Md. Salahuddin, among others, were present.