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Linking Young Minds Together
  Volume 3 | Issue 16 | April 24, 2011 |


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To Dunk or not to Dunk: On Campus

Salman Rob

Photo Courtesy: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Timo Cruz (From the movie Coach Carter)

The start of a game.

Mahabub Ashrafy during the game.

"With only ten seconds to go, Lakers are three points behind Miami Heat. Can they do it?!” These are the conversations and much tensed moments we do not see around much in our day to day lives in Bangladesh. It is always either the cricket match or the whereabouts of the English Premier League (EPL). But why not basketball? The sports scene today is dominated by other sports and few schools are still holding onto the basketball arena, but is this enough? Sad to say but most of the students in schools and high schools, who shine big in basketball, lose it all after joining a university in Bangladesh. Some of them end up joining the underground or divisional teams but the training is never enough due to not getting trained coaches and proper physical trainers. The tournaments which are held are mostly organised by schools or in the district levels by the Basketball Federation in Bangladesh, where most of the players are either from the army, the navy or the air force. So the chances for university students are getting slimmer day by day.

A student of Mastermind School practicing before their match.

Mizanur Rahman, Basketball coach of the National Team and also the coach of Maple Leaf International School, says, "It is very upsetting that we have so many private universities in Bangladesh and none of them have a proper basketball team. A few of the private universities do, but then again their conditions are not good." Rahman adds, "Either the government or the universities themselves should take initiatives over sports, whether it is basketball or football but the initiatives should be taken. Encouraging students to get into sports would reduce drug abuse which has gone really high." Rahmans also adds, "If we have an inter-university tournament within the next few years there is a high possibility of either North South University (NSU) or BUET to win, as few of my own players, whom I trained in Maple

The indoor gallery of Abahoni gym.

Leaf are now in NSU and BUET and they have had a pretty good basketball team for the last few years." Rahman also grieves for the players whom he trained through out their school lives, but have suddenly stopped playing after joining university. “You cannot actually blame them. It is not like they do not want to play. They do not have a place to practice in their campus. But this way, so many talented players are going down the drain," exclaims Rahman.

The team huddle.

On a different note, Bangladesh has its very own 'Girl's National Basketball Team' on the growth. Other than just them, there are a lot of schools who are bringing out talented girls who are shining really well under the proper guidance. But what will happen to this bunch when they join universities of Bangladesh? And how many will even think of going abroad just for basketball? Lamia Hafiz, a student of NSU and also a player of the Bangladesh National Basketball Team, says, “I don't blame the universities entirely. Education is so competitive these days. A student who still wants to be involved with sports does it outside campus.

Lamia Hafiz, player of the national girls team.

Going for a layup.

Most of the players I know are happy playing for private teams like 'Dhumketu' or 'Big Bangs', and they are organising their own leagues and loving it just fine.” Hafiz adds, “But of course, it takes away the feeling and spirit of playing for your own campus team. In the USA, students give equal importance to the university team along with their studies. We tend to miss out on a lot here.” Hafiz also mentions, “It is really a personal choice for most players. Opportunities are available to those who look for it. Although, it probably would have been much easier if the universities did have proper teams and facilities. That would have helped to create a bigger scene for us players. Talking about initiatives, my university is starting its own girl's team and we also plan to organise an intra-basketball tournament. Maybe someday other universities will follow our lead and we will hold inter-university tournaments as well.” Hafiz concludes by saying, “The girl's national team is

The on bench conversations with Mizanur Rahman.

doing wonderfully well, especially after having defeated 'Tripura' and the North East Indian team recently. The team was pretty scared with how they were going to do. Plus, more and more girls are showing interest and practising hard. The talented young girls actually have something to look forward to now.”

“Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
- Michael Jordan

A three pointer.
Scoring hoops.

Going for the penetration.

An after match discussion.

And the legend of basketball says it all. It doesn't matter if you are a girl or a boy. If you want to become something and have faith, there is hardly anything that can stop you. Most of the basketball leagues and tournaments are being hosted by youngsters who are still in school or have just graduated from high school. Their love for the sport is always shown on and off the court. Like them, a student of Maple Leaf International School, Mahabub Ashrafy talks about his perspectives about the basketball scene in Bangladesh. “I actually do not know who to blame. I am not going to university as yet, but yes, I have seen the senior players losing interest in basketball when they graduate from school and get into universities. It is really sad to see some really good talent going to waste.” Ashrafy mentions, “It is obvious for a player to lose touch if he or she does not get to play for a long time. From what I have seen and heard, after graduating from school, players do not get opportunities like they used to get in school. I really do not know why universities do not give any priority to basketball.” Ashrafy adds, “Someone needs to step in and fix this. It can be the players themselves who need to make the administration realise and prioritise this sport and hopefully the folded talents would unfold again.” Ashrafy concludes by saying, “I just want to play as long as I can and the dream always remains to represent the national team in the near future.”

This is the story of basketball in Bangladesh -- a country filled with sportsmanship but hugely lacking in opportunities. So let us all help these young people continue with what they love and hope for the best in future. You never know! Maybe a Basketball player from Bangladesh will probably be a part of the NBA! A far fetched dream, you say? Maybe. But that is what dreams are about, right? Let's chase them down!


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