ONCE again, the under-sixteen girl footballers of the country have made the nation proud with historic victory at the South Asian Football Federation Under-15 Women’s Championship. It was an unbeaten championship for Bangladesh, as New Age Youth reported on Sunday, scoring 13 goals and conceding to none throughout the tournament. The same team also won the title of Asian Football Federation Under-14 Regional Championship in 2015 and 2016. Earlier, in 2017, they qualified for the final round of the 2017 AFC Under-16 Women’s Championship in China where they were able to enter the super eight. Even more promising is that the women football team of the country secured the 100th position on FIFA ranking in 2017. The victorious journey of girl football team has not been a bed of roses; it has been long and arduous. These girls had to fight against patriarchal biases of their family and society, also battle economic hardships. The Bangladesh Football Federation should realise how far our juvenile girls could go, if they are provided with adequate and standard support. The girls’ football team deserves more than congratulatory notes, they deserve proper support and attention of BFF and the government at large for their future endeavours.
The girls’ team has proven that how much the truly spirited young footballers of Bangladesh could do, if they are given the institutional support and care. While the girls’ team are gaining attention, the men’s footballs of the country remains ignored. At present, the FIFA ranking of Bangladesh men’s football team is 197 among the 211 countries of the world. The men’s football, which has a golden past, has been struggling for decades. It is evident from the opinion of eminent ex-footballers and coaches that the apathy, inefficiency and mismanagement of BFF are the main reasons for this poor performance of men’s football today. Since October 2016, as reported in New Age on December 22, 2017, the men’s football team of Bangladesh did not play any international matches. There is no effective support mechanism for young male footballers. The talent hunt activities for them barely exist. At the end of last year BFF announced to resume National School Football Championship with the participation of 53 schools, whereas 4800 schools at upazilla level participated in that tournament in 2012. Ex-footballers also mention the need to have a football academy operated by BFF.
Under the circumstances, the BFF should develop a plan to further encourage women’s football and organise programmes to enhance the performances of the men’s football. The consecutive successes of girls’ team proved it that there is no lack of talent in football across the country.
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