Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday opened the first-ever Bangladesh Youth Games, expressing her hope that the country could effectively counter extremism through games and sports.
‘Through games and sports, we’ll face extremism as well as save the youths from the menace of drug abuse . . . we’ll also advance the country through it,’ she told the opening ceremony of the games at Bangabandhu National Stadium here in the evening.
The premier also wished the success of Bangladesh Youth Games -2018 expecting the event to show the youths to new dream and create future sports stars.
‘I also hope that through the meet, the hidden talents of the remote areas will be flourished and the interest of the people in the games and sports will grow further,’ she said.
Chairman of the organising committee of the games and finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith addressed the function as the special guest, while the events steering committee chair and Bangladesh Olympic Association president army chief General Abu Belal Muhammad Shafiul Huq delivered the welcome address.
State minister for youth and sports Biren Shikdar and deputy minister Arif Khan Joy and BOA secretary general Syed Shahed Reza were also present at the function, among others.
Sheikh Hasina termed sports and games essential factor for sound health and mind as well as for developing love towards the nation.
She said engagement in sports also instill into one the sense of discipline and responsibility, perseverance, dutifulness and tolerance alongside resulting in cultural blooming.
BOA organised the weeklong competition drawing 2660 under- 17 athletes from eight divisions for 1,114 medals including 342 golds in 159 events.
Urging the youths to practice games and sports as well as culture regularly side by side with pursuing study, the prime minister said these will help build them patriotic.
‘The games and sports will provide mental strength to develop and make their life prosperous ... so, we’re very much sincere in the development of games and sports,’ she said.
The prime minister said her government wants further development of games and sports in the country. ‘That’s why we’re increasing facilities in the Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishthan and physical education colleges ... we have taken initiatives for setting up BKSP in all divisions,’ she said.
Sheikh Hasina also elaborated various steps of her government for the development of country’s sports and games saying many stadiums, including Bangabandhu National Stadium, Mirpur Sher-e Bangla National Stadium, Chittagong Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, were reconstructed.
She mentioned that Sheikh Kamal International Cricket Stadium has been constructed at Cox’s Bazar and almost all stadiums, swimming pools, gymnasiums and sport complexes have been repaired and reconstructed.
Besides, stadiums and sports infrastructures have also been constructed up to upazila level of the country to expand opportunities for sports, she said.
Pointing out arrangement of Bangabandhu Gold Cup and Bangamata Gold Cup Football tournaments at primary school level across the country, the premier said that various national sports events are being arranged at national level on regular basis.
She highlighted successes of Bangladeshi players in various national and international events and said Bangladesh reached quarterfinals in the last World Cup Cricket, while the national team won ODIs against Pakistan, India and South Africa. ‘Bangladesh will one day win the World Cup,’ she hoped.
Highly praising the achievements of the female players, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh clinched the title of the SAF Under-15 Football Championship-2017, became regional champions in AFC Under-14 Football and runners-up in the Women Football Championship held in India recently.
Saying that the young sports stars are the architect of building a developed Bangladesh free from terrorism and militancy, the prime minister vowed to establish the country as a middle income one by 2021 and a hunger and poverty-free prosperous nation by 2041.
The prime minister said the youths must have self-confidence to groom themselves as worthy citizens of the country.
‘We’re victorious nation. We’ll never bow down, we’ll move keeping our head high ... we want to build the country in such a way so that it can sustain by competing with the world ... Bangladesh too can, we want to prove it,’ she said.
Mentioning that her and her family’s love for games and sports, the prime minister said the Father of the Nation was a sports-lover and he played numerous football matches in the school life.
‘My brothers - Shaheed Captain Sheikh Kamal and Shaheed Lieutenant Sheikh Jamal - played football, hockey, volleyball and basketball and were also involved in sports organisations,’ she said.
Extending her sincere thanks to all concerned involved in the games, Sheikh Hasina said it will pave the way for Bangladesh to get a place in the World Olympics.
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