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     Volume 5 Issue 101 | June 30, 2006 |

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Five-A-Side Hullabaloo

Imran H. Khan

World Cup 2006 in Germany is coming close to its conclusion and the world watches in intense anticipation as the team of their liking inch closer to glory, or to their eminent elimination. During this action packed month, a 5-a-side indoor soccer tournament was recently held at International School Dhaka (ISD), Baridhara, sponsored by BRAC Bank. Termed as the first of its kind, this 5-A Side BRAC Bank Cup Football Tournament kicked off on June 16 and lasted for a week. The 32 participants of the tournament were all people from the corporate world, all eager and edgy to display their soccer skills on ISD's indoor pitch. Indoor soccer or Futsal, as it is so passionately called, is mostly about ball control, fast thinking, shielding and shooting like no other game of soccer. That was supposed to be the prime attraction of the lovely game but I suppose most of the participants were more interested to flush out their irritation, anger and frustrations on the soccer ball from their humdrum work life.

The organisers and the sponsors giving speech on the closing day

Futsal is an international form of indoor soccer, played under the banner of FIFA throughout the world. This sort of tournament is normally played on a wooden basketball court, although it can be played on a variety of surfaces. I suppose anyone would choose wood over a concrete surface when it comes to playing soccer; wood is so much more agreeable with the skin when they make contact after a person has been tackled. The scratches and heel-marks on the basketball court's wooden floor is a mute testimony of numerous such tackles. The interesting thing about indoor soccer is the ball, a special, heavy, low-bounce ball, necessitating players to use their skills, rather than the ball's bounce, to play it. The BRAC Bank Cup Football Tournament's pitch and accessories were no different and each game was to last for 20 minutes. The competition had two phases, the first of which was a league stage with four teams in eight groups. The top two teams would move on to the main plate and the bottom teams would move on to the losers plate. The next round would all be the knockout stages, each team getting eliminated after losing their respective matches, until there were only two teams left for the finals on their respective plates. Another rule for this tournament was that no team was allowed to include any player of the current premier or first division teams. The tournament started with IDLC taking on Dhaka Sheraton Hotel in the first match of the event.

The rules of the tournament and the draw for the team groups were disclosed this at a press conference before the event. BRAC Bank Managing Director Imran Rahman was present for this occasion and gave a speech. "The main idea of this tournament is for the members of the corporate world to get together, to know each other and also to build cordial relationship among the participating teams," said Rahman. Later, Farhan Quddus, the owner of Excalibur Entertainment who is the main organisers of the tournament, conducted the draw of the 32 participating teams. Some of the popular teams from all nooks and crannies of the corporate world that took to the court were Infra Blue Tech, Ice Tech, GrameenPhone, Aarong, Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), Rahimafrooze, Beximco Pharma, Partex, Nestle, IDLC, Securex and Square. ISD also had their own team in the competition, a chance for the young boys to compete with against men while BRAC had two teams of their own.

From the first day, it was rather obvious that some of the players from the corporate world should have stayed well within their domain. Their lack of finesse, not to mention stamina, was rather obvious in the first minute of the match and they made the best use of the rolling substitution. This was met with much amusement and even some cheer from

Beximco Pharma, the champion of the BRAC Bank Cup 2006

their supporters, as they presumed that the fresh legs would carry a new breath of stamina. They were wrong. Even some of the mighty (by that I mean large around the waist) men crumbled as the game intensified. On the contrary, some of the players felt quite at home in this indoor ground. They dribbled, weaved, turned and took attempts at the goal, almost always finding the back of the net. The wide goalpost at ISD did little to help the goalkeepers as they missed ball after ball of attacking mayhem.

There were several memorable events throughout the duration of the competition. One such was Beximco Pharma's quick and ruthless annihilation of Securex, who conceded 20 goals without any reply. The battle between the cell phone operators, GrameenPhone and Banglalink was also watched with much zeal but GrameenPhone looked comfortable from the start and bagged five goals without conceding any. Another interesting match was held between Beximco Pharma and Beximco Textiles, both teams pitted against one another in the knockout phases of the match-up. After what seemed a battle of wits, Beximco Pharma won the match to move onto the next round. Infra Blue Tech also had a stunning run, winning in all their respective matches but their victories were short lived as Multimode Limited knocked them out in a gruelling penalty shoot-out. In the finals, Ice Technology met with Beximco Pharma and in a spectacular finale to the event, Beximco won three goals to two. It was a well-deserved win and in the end, everyone got a bit of what they came here for: some got to show off their skills, while others left memories on the wooden floor, and still some others got to leave a lot of crammed frustrations on the pitch, fresh and ready to get back to the cycle of daily life.

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