Mithun Kumar Biswas wore a broad grin on his boyish face as his name was announced as the best player of the Citycell 2nd SABA Championship. He celebrated with his teammates for a while and held the small trophy and kissed the medal as photographers thronged. But the smile suddenly disappeared as soon as he was asked the amount of the prize money.
He said 'nothing' with a rueful grin. “There is no prize money for the player-of-the-tournament,” said Mithun. “But I'm happy nonetheless for becoming the best player in an international tournament and happy to have contributed to the success,” the 24-year old boy from Pabna smiled again.
“I was a student of BKSP from 2004 to 2008. I was originally interested in football, but due to my height I was chosen for the basketball team. Now I love playing the game. But sometimes I do feel that if I was a cricketer or a football star, many people would've known me, now very few people do,” reflected Mithun, alluding to the fact that basketball, one of the most popular sports around the world, is struggling due to a lack of funds here.
Mithun's feelings were shared somewhat by Bangladesh Basketball Federation (BBF) general secretary AK Sarker. Happy as he was about Bangladesh's success, he was ruing the fact that they don't have a gymnasium or a dormitory to accommodate the players -- even the gallery was not good enough for spectators to enjoy. “If we had a gymnasium here and a dormitory where we could accommodate players, things would have been a lot easier for us. We could have had camps around the year. The gallery itself is faulty too and not very spectator-friendly,” said Sarker. “But now we are looking forward to hosting domestic tournaments as well as international ones to keep the players in the game. We will be hosting the South Asian U16 Championship in June-July this year,” informed Sarker.
“But for all that we need more corporate involvement as well as the government's assistance, which will make the sport a lucrative one and keep the players in the game.” The general secretary was looking for some assistance, in the form of technical support, from FIBA-Asia whose president Sheikh Saud Bin Ali Al-Thani was present here yesterday. “We don't give any monetary assistance to any member federations but we will be running coaching clinics for coaches, referees, and administrators which will help your basketball,” promised Thani.