A German coach who is a Bengali at heart commemorates 21 February

Coach Martin Frederick and the national archery team members pay homage to the language martyrs at the Shaheed Ahsan Ullah Master Stadium in Tongi on 21 February, 2023Collected

Ram Krishna Saha, Diya Siddique and other archers of the national team spent a different kind of a day at the Shaheed Ahsan Ullah Master Stadium in Tongi on Tuesday.

Along with their routine practice, the archers also celebrated the International Mother Language Day on the field.

Bangladesh Archery Federation erected a temporary Shaheed Minar right below the VIP gallery, near the entrance gate of the venue. The archers laid a flower wreath at the Shaheed Minar to pay their respects for the language martyrs.

Not just the archers, their German coach Martin Frederick also laid flowers at the temporary Shaheed Minar alongside the players.

Frederick, who has been in Bangladesh for five years, knows about the sacrifices made by the Bengali people on 21 February, 1952 and also knows that this day is now commemorated as the International Mother Language Day.

“I know about the International Mother Language Day. Before coming to work in Bangladesh, I read up on the history, liberation war and the language martyrs of Bangladesh. Of course, I’m well aware of the importance of this day. I know the history behind this day, how a group of Bengalis laid down their lives for their language. I also know that this day has been acknowledged as the International Mother Language Day,” Frederick said.

Archers and coach Martin Frederick at the temporary Shaheed Minar at the Shaheed Ahsan Ullah Master Stadium in Tongi

Frederick has never been a part of the procession in the Central Shaheed Minar on the morning of 21 February, but he has visited the Shaheed Minar once to pay homage to the martyrs, “I visited the Shaheed Minar in my first year in Bangladesh.”

Frederick is gradually acquiring Bangla and becoming a Bengali at heart.

When asked about his fluency in Bangla, Frederick smiled and replied in clear Bangla, “I talk in Bangla. I get up on rickshaws and tell the rickshaw pullers, go straight, turn left, right. Stop here… do you have change?”

Martin Frederick is a Bengali at heart

Frederick also tries to speak Bangla during training, “When the archers aren’t listening to me, are training very casually, I tell them in Bangla, ‘Hey, hurry up’. When they get a good score, I say in Bangla, ‘Nice… Well done’.”

The coach had no special plans for the day. But he said that he would put on a punjabi and a lungi in the afternoon and go out.

Bangladesh and Bangla language have a special place in Frederick’s heart. He has also gotten accustomed to the Bengali cuisine, “The Bengali cuisine here tastes incredible. But they use excessive spices, I find it spicy.”

Frederick is also a fan of Bangladeshi vegetables and regularly eats some in his meals, “You can’t find red spinach in Europe. I really like red spinach. I also like okra and other local vegetables.”

Out of the seasonal fruits, Federick is particularly fond of mangoes. He said in Bangla, “I really love eating mangoes. In Europe, we eat just one type of mango. Here, I have eaten 15 different types of mangoes. I tasted jackfruit for the first time in Bangladesh.”