Bangladesh basks in women’s South Asian football glory

By Azad Majumder

Dhaka, Sep 22 (EFE) – A reception on an open-top bus, cash prizes, and a housing promise were some of the rewards that greeted Bangladesh women footballers at home after clinching a regional title.

After defeating Nepal 3-1 in the 6th South Asian Football Federation Championship in Kathmandu on Monday, football lovers in Bangladesh burst into celebration, hailing the victory as an important milestone for women in the country.

The success hogged the media limelight with banner headlines and prime-time news debates.

The media was quick to show the grim living conditions of the players in rural areas and the poor economic state of their families.

The celebration continued on Thursday when Bangladesh Football Federation president Kazi Salahuddin hosted members of the victorious team at his office for a meeting a day after they returned to a hero’s welcome.

“This is a great achievement for us. One of the best sporting achievements for our country. It was also a culmination of our girls’ years of hard work,” Salahuddin told EFE.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Thursday announced prize money to all the players in recognition of clinching the title.

She directed the authorities concerned to build houses for those in need, the state news agency BSS quoted her press secretary Ihsanul Karim as saying.

Karim, however, did not reveal any amount.

Cash-rich Bangladesh Cricket Board and two senior officials of the Bangladesh Football Federation also announced at least $150,000 in cash rewards for the players, most of whom hailed from poor rural families.

The team received a grand welcome at Dhaka airport as they returned from Nepal on Wednesday.

The players paraded through Dhaka streets in a colorfully decorated open-deck bus for four hours before they reached the country’s football headquarters.

Hundreds of fans greeted them on their way, while most TV channels broadcast the journey live.

“This is not just a mere title win for us,” rights activist Maleka Banu told EFE.

“Women in our country have to fight against many odds. This is a victory against all kinds of regressiveness. We are hoping it will become a big step forward for our girls.”

Ranked 147th by FIFA in women’s football, Bangladesh went to the SAFF championship without any serious expectations as neighbor India traditionally dominated the competition, winning the title in all previous five editions.

Bangladesh ended Indian dominance in the group stage by beating the side 3-0 before romping to the final with a crushing 8-0 win over Bhutan.

In the final, they outclassed hosts Nepal on a slow-moving field in Kathmandu to lift their maiden title.

The team, led by striker Sabina Khatun, named the Player of the Tournament, scored 23 goals in the competition and conceded just one.

Related Articles

Back to top button