The international women’s day is being celebrated across the world today, marking the gains women made day-by-day. As this is time to recognise some of the outstanding achievements of some of the women in Bangladesh, New Age’s Sudipta Ananda spoke to three female sporting icons in Bangladesh, who did not limit their success to just in women’s sports, rather engaged themselves in men’s game in a meaningful way.
Shathira Jakir Jesy
Shathira Jakir Jesy, one of the members of Bangladesh’s first national women’s cricket team, became a renowned face in country’s cricket fraternity in her capacity as a cricket commentator.
Unlike some female anchors of the local television channel, Jesy impressed her audience with a deep understanding of the game, which already made her a popular face in this field.
Jesy, who is now a regular commentator of Radio Shadhin, continued her playing career and cricket commentary concurrently defying all barriers.
‘Cricket is my passion and it gave me a lot of popularity,’ Jesy told New Age.
‘I feel really proud to be a cricketer as well as a commentator. I feel proud when I think I was also a part of Bangladesh cricket team’s many success.’
Jesy said she started her career as a commentator in Radio Bhumi before she joined Radio Shadhin three years ago as their commentator.
‘It was really a tough job for me initially because I had no experience. But over the time I became experienced and started enjoying it,’ said Jesy, a former BKSP student.
Hailed from remote Lalmonirhat district Jesy enrolled her as a shooter in BKSP before turning her attention to cricket in 2001 when Bangladesh Cricket Board took the initiative of forming a women’s team.
‘I impressed the coaches and became a part of the first women’s national team and played all one-day matches till 2011. After Bangladesh women’s team was given one-day international status, I played two ODIs and two Twenty20 Internationals.
Jesy requested the other women to come forward and take cricket commentary as a profession.
‘Presently commentary is a lucrative profession in many aspects. I am sure they will find it interesting,’ she said.
Dalia Akter, the captain of the Bangladesh women’s national handball team, set a unique example of coaching men’s handball at the national level.
Dalia, a European B licensed handball coach, was given the charge of Dhaka District men’s handball team in the last National Championships, guiding the team to the fifth position in the tournament.
This was stepping stone in the career of Dalia, a proud member of silver-winning Bangladesh women’s handball team in the 2016 South Asian Games, who set her goal of becoming the coach of both national men’s and women’s team.
Apart from coaching men’s team Dalia also coached BJMC women’s team while playing for the organisation, which made her an omnipresent face in country’s handball arena.
Dalia started her handball career as early as in 1995 when she was a class eight student in Madaripur and gradually established her at a national level. She lost seven crucial years between2000 to 2007 as Bangladesh Handball Federation had hardly any activities back then.
‘After playing in the Junior Asian Championships, we had to wait for long seven years for another international meet,’ she said.
‘In 2008 the federation decided to resume the activities of women’s handball team and they selected me as the captain of the national team for the 3rd South Asian Handball Championship where we became runners-up after losing the final game against hosts India.
‘Since 2008, I am still leading the national team.’
Dalia said she really enjoyed her days when she guided a men’s team at national level.
‘It’s really something special for me because as per I know I am the first women who coached a men’s team in our country,’ Dalia said. ‘I am thankful to everyone for their co-operation.’
Jaya Chakma, a woman belonging to the ethnic minority group, defied all the barriers to establish her as one of the common faces in country’s football as she also excelled in refereeing after ending her playing career.
Jaya, the 27-year old woman from Rangamati, drew attention recently when she conducted matches in men’s football.
When Jaya completed her Asian Football Confederation Class-3 refereeing certificate course in 2011 she was still a member of national women’s team.
She missed the 2012 SAFF Women’s Football Championship due to injury, which effectively ended her playing career.
She started her refereeing career in 2012 by conducting the matches of Pioneer Football League.
Three years later she completed her AFC national refereeing course and also got an opportunity of conducting matches in men’s Third Division Football League.
This year Jaya conducted the final match of Dhaka Division men’s football of the Bangladesh Youth Games.
‘It was a great experience in my life,’ said Jaya.
‘I showed the first red card of my career in a men’s football match of an Inter-University competition. When I gave the marching order to the male footballer, he was astonished and fans were also surprised.
‘Actually, when I conduct a match in men’s football I forget my gender and concentrate on my job in hand,’ said Jaya, who completed her master degree in History from Jahangirnagar University in 2016.
She is also the first Bangladeshi female referee to conduct international matches.
‘My first experience of conducting an international match was in Sri Lanka in 2013 when I conducted matches of AFC Under-14 Women’s Central and South Asian Girl’s Regional Championship,’ said Jaya.
‘After that, I went to Nepal and Tajikistan to conduct the matches and attended a football festival in Germany where I conducted 10 matches, including one between Argentina and Brazil.’