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Spirit of sport

Various specialized institutes for different sports can be found pretty much in every country. These institutes embrace the role of identifying and nurturing talented youngsters, training coaches and even promoting the respective sport. The lack of such institutes in our country is a serious impediment to the development of sports personalities good enough to compete in the international level. However, the only such institute in our country, BKSP (Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protisthan) established for this very purpose, has done its best to improve the situation since its inception.

After its official establishment in 1976, BKSP commenced its academic programs in 1983. It's located at the north of the National Martyr Monument in Savar. The institute provides training in ten sports, these are-Athletics, Gymnastics, Basketball, Hockey, Boxing, Shooting, Cricket, Swimming, Football and Tennis. Since many of these sports have a small group of followers and practitioners in Bangladesh, they are pretty much kept alive by the graduates from BKSP. BKSP's success in the various age based tournaments of these sports also goes to show that. It is definitely the place to be for anyone who is seriously looking to pursue a career in any one of these sports disciplines.

Although the main purpose of the organization is to provide training in sports, it does not neglect the importance of proper academic upbringing. Generally the trainees are admitted in class VII and they can continue their studies here up to degree. Their curriculum is strictly in line with that of the education board and adequate facilities are provided for teaching. In addition to all the general subjects a compulsory sports subject is included in the curriculum. More importantly BKSP has adequate facilities for all the sports disciplines too.

The institute provides two types of courses- long time courses and short time courses. Entrance into the short term program is usually received through nominations and recommendations from respective sports federations, district sports association and other sports organization. It's an intense program where the selected are trained for 1-3 months. Those who show exceptional promise in the course are considered for admission in the long term course.

In the long term or the general course the trainees study and train in the institute until they graduate or until they fail to show progress, in the case of which they are sent back. Usually during December an advertisement for admission is circulated and those interested are requested to apply. Candidates for Boxing, Gymnastics and Swimming are admitted in classes V, VI and VII. Candidates for the other disciplines are admitted in class VII, the age of the student seeking admission has to be within 13 years.

Because of the limited number of seats in the institute the admission test and the selection process is quite grueling. Especially in Cricket and Football a large number of candidates apply for a small number of positions, which makes the selection process even more competitive for these two disciplines. After the application all eligible candidates are called to appear in the admission test. First all the candidates take part in a medical examine, those who pass have to go through some physical test. And then the qualifying candidates have to prove their worth in their respective sports. And that's just the beginning. After this primary test those who qualify are called for the final selection test which lasts for 2 weeks, during this period the candidates are required to reside in the institution. It is then that the extensive test of a candidate in his/her respective sport takes place. There is also a written test in the last day. And after all that candidates are finally selected.

Because of the facilities, the extensive training program and the modern scientific training methods implemented in the institute it can help any athlete go a long way. So if someone is actually willing to take the risk of pursuing a career in sports this is the place to go

By Sadman Alvi

Painting Ekushey

As over 400 children poured in from every direction towards the centre of Rabindra Shorobor (Amphitheatre) at Dhanmondi Lake, it seemed to the volunteers (including myself) that they would be uncontrollable. They laughed, scurried all over the place and between them, shared an energetic force unparallel to everything else. They were truly unstoppable.

This is what Chikimonkey-Phulkuri Art Competition felt like on that sunny morning of 21st February 2008. Organized by the children's organization, Phulkuri Aashor in Dhanmondi and sponsored by Chikimonkey, a product from Akij Group; the competition catered to 425 participants from different schools, of which most were aimed at underprivileged and autistic children. They were divided into three groups: Ka (for autistic children), Kha (for Nursery to 3rd Grade) and Ga (4th grade and onwards). The subjects were as follows: Group Ka “Ja Icche Aaki”, Group Kha “Gourobmoy Shahid Minar” and Group Ga “Rashtrobhasha Bangla Chai”. But, beyond the groups, subjects and rules was the enthusiasm the flowed within every individual present at the occasion.

After the participants scribbled their names and respective personal information in the entry forms, and the volunteers managed to place them at their designated rows with art papers; the competition finally began at quarter to ten. Pencils scratched the images of Language Movement and brushes stroked colours of freedom, mutiny and sacrifice. Many of the children forgot to bring boards, pencils and colouring materials; and it was great to see Phulkuri volunteers pulling things out from their own reserves to help them out. We watched the kids pour out their hearts on the white canvas and carefully recreating the spirit of Ekushey. They were their own art critics, silent observers and rule setters. Some asked for a second opinion from one of us, and when we encouraged them about their talents; they would scrutinize us from head to toe and then say, “Nah, I still think the people in my drawing don't look real enough!”

In the midst of the paintings, Shandhani was handing out low cost services to the awaiting parents and representatives from different schools. Anyone interested could get blood grouping and screening done at Tk.50 only, and many of the university goers present at the venue decided to step up and donate blood. Of course, pricking needles through their child's skin wasn't a very appealing thought to most of the parents, even if it meant knowing the blood group. Many parents even shooed us away with angry looks and shocked expressions!

After an hour of drawing, scribbling and criticizing, the announcer finally ended the competition. The volunteers walked between the rows, collecting the paintings and opening Chikimonkey sponsored drinks and chips packets for the children. As they posed excitedly for a moment on some of our cameras, the remaining volunteers counted and categorised the paintings. The 2-hour long event officially ended with the much spirited Phulkuri song echoing in everyone's voices and the surrounding air.

Although the results are due on the 29th of this month, it was obvious that most participants were least bothered about it. They remembered the fun and excitement of the event, and somehow, it was all that mattered. The remains of wax colours on their fingernails and brush strokes on their noses carried a sense of satisfaction. As one of the volunteers puts it, “It was truly an amazing experience!”

Story and Photos
By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

Wrong Impressions

Nineteen hours on a plane does not a happy girl make. Hauling a suitcase over miles and miles of airport walkways isn't a bag of fun, either. So excuse my crummy mood when I finally walked through the sliding doors of the DWF Airport in Dallasstill hauling my suitcase, thank you very muchand caught my first real glimpse of America.

My dad's friend and his family were waiting for us. We were going to live with them for a bit, before we found a place of our own. Standard procedure, I knew. It was a good thing that we had acquaintances here, or else we'd have been lost. I knew gratitude was in order, and for that reason I was willing to put up with what would obviously be spoiled Americanized brats until we got on our own feet.

Shethe 'she' in question being my father's friend's daughterwas a petite fifteen-year-old. She had an iPod plugged to her ears, and when she saw my parents and me approaching she rose respectfully to her feet. She could almost be an actual Bangladeshi, I caught myself thinking. And she was.

I was bowled over when I found that she wasn't a brat. She called her parents 'abbu' and 'ammu', and joked around with mine. She talked to me. There was no arrogance, no superior-than-thou attitude. She didn't crinkle her nose at my accent or at my clothes. Where was the prejudice? I wondered. Where was the staring and gawking I was told to expect?

The staring and gawking didn't come. Starting from the airport officials (most of them had those rolling Southern drawls. No cowboy hats, though) to the streets, the people didn't stop to point. They couldn't care less that I wore the hijab, or that I was brown-skinned. My friend (for she had become a friend, in that half hour it took me to warm up to her) told me that no matter what people had told me, the Americans really didn't care about how you looked or dressed. Guess what? They minded their own business.

We moved into my dad's friend's house. On a clean suburban street with bicycles on the sidewalk and mothers wheeling their children down the road. There was no pollution. The grass was trimmed. And everyone went their own way.

I've been here almost a week now, and I'm starting to realize that you shouldn't believe what you see on television. The vices of mankind exist in every corner of the world. Prejudice and hatred and racism stems deep in every culture. Heck, even Bangladeshis are racist. So I was wrong, wrong to expect gun-touting psychopaths to stop me on the streets and strip-search me because I was a Muslim and therefore a 'terrorist'. I was wrong to judge the book by its cover. As a guy I met at a party told me (scoffing incredulously at my fears), 'you based reality on television?' Err, I guess I did…

Yeah, I did. And guess what? No gun-touting psychopaths have stopped me on the streets. Yet. And I don't expect them to.

By Shehtaz Huq




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