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       Volume 11 |Issue 29| July 20, 2012 |


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Kickin' it the Corporate Way

The seventh edition of the Ascent Corporate Soccer Cup was a mixture of
excitement and great football and brought out the 'footballer' inside every 'Bangali'

A glimpse from the Ascent Corporate Soccer Cup.
Photo: Tanzim Ahmed Bijoy

Let's be honest, one would expect a corporate football tournament to be a mere pastime, where employees of various companies would like to go to have some fun, make acquaintances and perhaps talk about potential deals. The Ascent Corporate Soccer Cup, however, was an event which completely changed the stereotypical notions that one frequently associates with the corporate world.

Frequent chants such as dhurr ey ta kemne goal holo or shabash, hobe, eibar hobe accompanied by a jam-packed crowd, exhibited the seriousness of the tournament. Yep, this might just be another football game, but try explaining that to the bunch of 30-year-olds giving it everything on the field! From handshakes and hugs after a rough tackle to angry stares that would perhaps make the best of sportspersons nervous, the five-a-side football tournament which took place at the STM Hall, located in Scholastica's Uttara campus, had every possible element.

As expected, the tournament came to a scintillating end, which saw last year's finalists Gemcon lose to traditional heavy weights, Beximco Pharma, at the last minute. Trailing by two goals, Gemcon was relentless, desperately in search of goals. In what was bound to be a dramatic finish, they managed to score two goals and tie the game.

However, at the nick of time, a superb strategic call led to a third goal for Beximco Pharma, as the ecstatic crowd lunged on to the court to celebrate the victory. It was a match that was worthy of the spirit shown during the entire tournament. It wasn't about signing deals, neither was it about supporting one's own company; it was just a celebration, a celebration of a game that once upon a time ruled the streets of this country.

With the tournament ensuring three different cups, i.e. the championship, the plate and the bowl, there was something in it for every team to fight for. It also provided a great opportunity for team bonding and improving the level of communication between the players, which of course can have a positive effect at work. It therefore wasn't a surprise to see the various bosses encouraging their employees to participate in the tournament.

Bengal Fireballs won the CEOs game. Photo: Tanzim Ahmed Bijoy

“Working in a corporate company can be quite hectic. And tournaments like these tend to break the shackles and allow us to have some fun. We also get to meet people, make new friends and basically get to enjoy a good week's football,” claims Asif Ahmed, an employee of Apollo Hospitals.

A break from the intense matches saw a fun-filled CEOs game, which witnessed senior members from the corporate world taking a shot at goal. The teams with animated names— Bengal Fireballs and Dhaka Warriors— played a humourous match in a light-hearted environment. “ It's all fun and games… you have people from different parts of the corporate world gelling together… having some fun, all in all a good time,” says a jolly looking Imran Ahmed, Vice Chancellor of the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, who unfortunately ended up in the losing side.

Farhan Quddus, CEO, Excalibur Entertainment, the brainchild of the event could not have asked for a better finish. “The response from the companies this year was brilliant. We had a record-breaking 50 teams who signed up to play this year. It just keeps growing bigger and better,” he exclaims.

Quddus, while on a trip to Kolkata witnessed the Kolkata Merchants Cup, a tournament that's more than a quarter of a century old. It invited various teams, both for cricket and football, to compete. Almost immediately, Quddus decided to replicate the tournament in Dhaka and thus, the Corporate Football tournament was born.

Ecstatic members of Beximco Pharma, after winning the championship. Photo: Tanzim Ahmed Bijoy

A competition that initially started six years ago with a mere 24 teams has more than doubled ever since. And that's not it, there are many more events coming up. Members of the tournament are planning to start an annual badminton tournament in order to encourage women to participate. While there was an all-women's team in this year's cup, headed by Sonia Bashir Kabir, CEO of DELL, a more encouraging start is expected in the upcoming tournaments.

With employees in the corporate world forced to be on their toes 24/7, tournaments like these will always be awaited upon. As one of the losing finalists, during the award ceremony puts it, “I can't wait for next year's tournament. Need to start practicing earlier next time.” As for the traditionalists who believe that a mere degree from a reputed university is enough to get a job in the corporate sector, think again, good sporting skills might actually do you a favour.


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