Tue. Mar 5th, 2024

All sports are more or less present in the sports world of Bangladesh. Top level cricketers and footballers are busy on the field throughout the year. But the third major game of hockey is 180 degrees opposite! The domestic organization of this one game in Bangladesh is the most irregular. It has no chronology. When a game, no one can say. Clubs play only when they want to play. Otherwise the game is not played.

From 2019, the premier hockey league has been held only once in 5 years! Two years have passed since the last league ended on November 28, 2021, with no news from the league. The officials spent the next 12-14 months floundering in the satisfaction of finishing a league. This raises the question, what is the job of hockey officials in Bangladesh? Going to the federation to have tea and breakfast and go on a trip abroad? From the perspective of the situation, it seems so.

If you open the book of domestic hockey, you will find a chaotic situation. In the 25 years from 1998, the Dhaka Premier League was held only 13 times. Except for three consecutive years from 2002 to 2004, there has never been a Premier League for two consecutive years. The 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018 leagues maintain the unwritten tradition of being held in consecutive years. After 2018, the longest hiatus of three years in the history of the hockey league.

If there is no Premier League, naturally there is no first, second division either. The situation of these two leagues is the same as the Premier League. In the last 25 years since 1998, the first division league has been held 12 times. Since 2012, the second division league has been held only 5 times. The last Victory Day tournament was held in 2020. Martyr memory is in 2021. After many struggles, after four years, the first and second division leagues of 2021 have taken place this year. Apart from these two events, nothing else happened in domestic hockey in 2023.

The League Committee of the Federation held a meeting in the third week of October with the initiative of organizing the Premier League this year. According to Federation General Secretary Mominul Haque Saeed, 10 out of 12 premier clubs (Abahani, Mohammedan, Mariners, Sonali Bank, Ajax, Wari, Dilkusha, Victoria, Bangladesh Police and General Insurance) agreed to switch teams before the national elections. The two clubs of old Dhaka in the Premier League, former champion Usha Krira Chakra and Bangladesh Sporting did not want to change teams now. However, with the consent of the majority, the draft date of devolution is fixed between 25 November and 5 December. This year, Usha returned to premier hockey after winning the first division. But the Premier League is not happening.

But on November 8, the hockey federation’s executive committee meeting at the Air Force’s Falcon Hall scuttled the transfer talks. It is known that, in the meeting, the general secretary of the federation cited the example of football and cricket and raised the question ‘why not hockey’. But the problem is that those who are hockey club officials are also federation officials. They talk about various problems in the Federation meeting.

Abdur Rashid, the general secretary of Usha, as the vice-president of the federation, in the meeting, opposed the change of party before the national elections and highlighted various problems including finances. But Usha is the only Premier League club, which only plays hockey. Other club representatives were silent on the transfer talks. The General Secretary of the Federation is talking about his helplessness, “When they are silent, their reluctance can be understood. When our officials did not speak in support of my proposal for a change of party, what else to do! A proposal which is rejected at the outset cannot be fought over. I talked to various clubs and solved some problems personally but convinced them to switch teams. But in the end I couldn’t. This failure is mine.

Bangladeshi clubs have no fixed income. They run on sponsor money. Here lies the misfortune of hockey. A club can play cricket-football regularly with sponsor’s money, but during hockey, the state has objections. Of course, this is nothing new. The federation has long been a hostage to the club. Clubs cannot show accountability most of the time. If the federation does not have a preferred general secretary, non-cooperation prevails. There is factionalism among officials.

Usha official Abdur Rashid did not pick up the phone when called to ask for an explanation as to why there was reluctance to switch parties before the elections. However, Bangladesh Sporting general secretary Mostak Hossain told Prothom Alo, “We have financial problems. But we will definitely play after the election.

Former player Mahbubul Ehsan is the joint secretary of Abahani and is also the joint secretary of the federation. As an official of Abahani, he said, ‘We are willing to play at any time. I agree even if you change the party tomorrow.’ Then why didn’t the party change? Mahbub Ehsan said, “As an official of the federation, our idea from the federation was to change the team before the Asian Games and start the league after the games.” But that did not happen due to the reluctance of some clubs. Donors will not give money before elections, they said. However, I believe that if the clubs tried a little more, the league would have happened now. I’m disappointed not to. Shame on the players too.

Ashraful Islam, another player of the national team, sighs, “What is the price of things now, how will the hockey players go!” It won’t happen if only 30 players are good. What will the remaining 100 people eat? What is the news of hockey, when he wants to know it at home, he feels small.’ Khorshedur Rahman lamented, ‘If the forces did not help, the hockey players would have died of starvation. Whether our game is good or not, not even a crow takes notice.

This regret of hockey players, when will this disappointment go away!