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     Volume 4 Issue 37 | March 11 , 2005 |

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Women Need more Sports Facilities

Sultan Qamrun Nahar

In a country where sports, unless it's cricket or football, is not given the importance it deserves, sports facilities for women are extremely limited. The Dhanmondi Women's Sports Complex (DWSC) is possibly the only centre that caters to women's' sports. DWSC is a government organisation with all the facilities supplied by National Sports Council (NSC). In 1972 a group of courageous women, including Rabeya Khatun, Sajeda Chowdhury, Lutfunnisa Bakul, with the help of NSC, took a revolutionary initiative to do something for promoting women's sport. The result was DWSC an exclusive sports ground for women among 33 federations, in Dhanmondi. From 1972 to 2004 the Complex has created a number of good women athletes.

After being built in 1972, its first president was Sayeda Sajeda Chowdhury, and general secretary was Lutfunnisa Haq Bakul. Being a part of NSC it is provided with 10 lakh Takas every year in four installments. In every district there is branch and activity of DWSC. The complex has facilities for aerobics, swimming, badminton, table tennis, volleyball, handball, judo, football, gymnastics, marshal art and all type of athletics.

The complex caters to mainly women of all ages, but it does allow boys from six to ten to its facilities. There are approximately 450 players and among them 50 are boys. Players from all over Dhaka get the opportunity to play and practice here. Physical trainers, who get a salary, train all type of players. Swimming and Aerobics seem to be the most popular activities at the Complex with around a hundred trainees for each activity.

Admission fees differ according to the discipline one wishes to train in. Swimming and Aerobics, for example have registration fee of Tk 800 each plus a monthly fee of Tk 600. DWSC earns from 50,000-1,00,000 taka which fluctuates from year to year as there are fewer students in the winter and during exam seasons.

There is a women's hostel in the complex reserving 150 seats. When there is any big competition with players coming from all over Bangladesh, these hostels are used for their accommodation.

While swimming is the most popular sport at the complex, it is sometimes quite awkward for women to swim, as there is little privacy, thanks to the surrounding high rises. Reconstruction work has been under taken to improvise the pool as well as the hostel -- which has been allocated 200 seats.

The toilets too, are extremely dirty and ill-maintained, which is a major cause of annoyance to the players and trainees. The authorities say that they are planning to improve this facility. A canteen is also in the pipeline as well as the introduction of cricket and lawn tennis. When there is a mega competition with players from all over the country, 25 trainers train the players at the same time. Players do not have to pay for food and accommodation.

Although the complex provides the best possible environment for women's sports, like all other institutions, it is not untouched by politics. The sports complex has increasingly become a venue for fairs, meena bazars and concerts rather than sporting events. With concerts no longer being allowed in the army stadium, they are now being held at the DWSC. Along with concerts come the rowdy concertgoers who are difficult to control; the sports field is damaged and people throw garbage into the pool. It costs about 20 thousand taka just to clean the pool, according to the Complex sources. Government authorities prefer to allow this venue for concerts as they claim it is a safe place. But this argument has not been taken well by residents who have to suffer every time a concert takes place and the roads are clogged with extra traffic.

Obviously steps have to be taken to make this Complex as efficient as possible in training potential sportswomen. As it is, women are rarely encouraged to play sports. The DWSC represents a hope that someday they will be.



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