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By Nusrat

Basketball is one of the most popular games played over the world. When basketball first started in 1891 in Massachusetts, it was just a side game without much importance. In fact it was formulated for the football players in order to keep them in shape during the winter.

Today, by the 21st century, basketball has become more widespread and is enjoyed by the young and old alike.

Basketball was first brought into Bangladesh in the late 1950s by reputed missionary schools of the country like Saint Gregory's School of Dhaka, Saint Joseph's School of Khulna and such others. But probably the contribution of Brother Thomas Moore of Saint Gregory's School was most remarkable. He took a lot of interest in this sport and soon his students started to excel at it. The introducers of the game and the first Bangladeshi players dreamt of establishing a solid and deeply rooted foundation of basketball in Bangladesh. Between 1970 and 1985 basketball became one of the most popular games in the country, probably second to football. But over the years somehow basketball lost its appeal and this resulted in its downfall.

It was Bangladesh Basketball Federation that took the noble initiative to revive the lost glory of this game. About five years ago, a training school called Basketball Federation Training School (BFTS) was formed under the Federation. Since then BFTS is pursuing its objective of training up young potential people and molding them into proficient and qualified players. Their attempt is indeed turning out to be very successful. They are regularly training students of various schools and arranging inter-school competitions. Though they have limited the present training programme within Dhaka City only, they hope to spread it to other districts soon.

BFTS aspires to promote Bangladesh up to the World Cup level. They wish to see both the men's and women's team of Bangladesh to take part in the Basketball World Cup competitions. BKSP has joined BFTS to search for tall boys (6ft or above) from all over Bangladesh in order to train them to play in the national teams.

BFTS is also looking forward to forming a Women's National Team as soon as they have enough girls to form one. BFTS also assigns different members of their committee to go to different schools as coaches and train the students. At present the number of girl's school teams are increasing. Schools such as Maple-leaf, Southbreeze, European Standard School (ESS), Sunbeams, Scholastica, Green Herald, The Aga Khan School, Sunnydale, ISD, BIT etc. have all got girls' teams who have participated in different tournaments. The last inter-school tournament was held in January 2003, where Maple Leaf School became the champion and Southbreeze School the runners-up.

In its attempt to train young people, BFTS has organized practice sessions for both boys and girls, held in the Abahani Wooden Floor Gymnasium in Dhanmondi. The training sessions are held in the Abahani Gymnasium every afternoon except for Fridays. The timings of the practice sessions are as follows:
Girls : 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Boys : 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The admission fees are Tk.200/= and monthly fees are Tk.200/=.

There are a few other gymnasiums in Dhaka city, apart from the Abahani Wooden Floor Gymnasium. There is an open-air court in DOHS, which is open to all. There is one in Sobhanbag called the Sobhanbag Dental College court which is also a public court. The biggest court is in the Mirpur Indoor Stadium. This court is grand and is suitable for holding international competitions. The SAARC Basketball Tournament, which is scheduled to be held in December, will apparently be held in the Mirpur Indoor Stadium. Besides all these courts, some schools in Dhaka like St. Joseph's School, Resedential Model School, Shaheen School, Bangladesh International Tutorial (BIT), SFX Green Herald, AIS/D, International School of Dhaka (ISD) and many other schools have their own basketball courts so that their students can play and practice there.

Basketball has now become a widely enjoyed game in our country. Many boys and girls alike are almost addicted to basketball. They often sit glued onto the television screen, watching their favourite game and other basketball programme like NBA. They watch their favourite teams playing and admire with envy (!) every vogue and style of their favourite basketball players. As much as they enjoy watching the game, they equally enjoy playing it. But unfortunately the fields and other playgrounds in our country are gradually depleting and children do not get the chance to play basketball. However, the Bangladesh Basketball Federation, along with BFTS has tried to solve this problem for the children. Now the children get the chance to play their favourite game and to actually try out the different moves of their favourite basketball stars. In fact, who (if given the chance) would not like to be able to shoot like Shakiel O'
Neil or dunk like Michael Jordan?

(The writer wishes to thank Mr. Salim Chowdhury, the Secretary General of Bangladesh Basketball Federation, Mr. Sayeed Ahmed and Mr. Mahtabur Rahman Bulbul for their helpful suggestions.)


Basketball has bright future in Bangladesh

Bangladesh Basketball Federation Secretary General tells RS

By Nusrat

The Rising Stars interviewed Secretary General of Bangladesh Basketball Federation Salim Chowdhury recently about basketball in Bangladesh. Following is its excerpts:

RS: What was the motive behind forming a training school (BFTS) for the young children of our country?

SC: Our main motive behind starting a training school was to promote basketball among the younger generation of this country. Most children who enjoy basketball do not get a chance to play due to the lack of space in this city. So we have started training sessions for them in the Abahani Gymnasium, so that they can play and learn the game. With practice, soon they will be skilled enough to play at an international level.

RS: The Federation had already formed a men's team who went out of the country to participate in tournaments. What is your opinion about them?

SC: Yes, the men's team has participated in two tournaments held in India and they have been fairly successful. Last year they secured the runners-up position in a tournament organised in India by the South Asian Basketball Association (SABA). This July, the team went to India again to take part in the Asian Men's Basketball Tournament and cinched the bronze trophy. On their way to the third position, Bangladesh beat Nepal and Sri Lanka. I think it was a very big achievement for them because it was the first time that Bangladesh had beaten a strong team like Sri Lanka. This is only the beginning. They still have a long way to go and a lot to improve.

RS: Is there any initiative being taken in order to form a Women's National Team?

SC: Yes, of course. We will be able to form a team as soon as we have enough players for it. If we manage to get a handful of skilled players we will easily be able to play in the World Cup directly, because the girls' teams do not require to go through any qualification rounds in order to participate in the World Cup Tournaments. BFTS has already started looking for girls who have the potential and are willing to play for the national team. They have introduced a practice sessions for young girls so that they can master the game and later qualify for the team. However, it is turning out to be very difficult.

RS: Why is finding girls for playing on the team turning out to be a difficult task?

SC: This is mainly because most of the young girls, in pursuit of a good future are going abroad for higher studies. Since sports for females are not very popular or recognized in our country, they do not see a bright future ahead of them in the field of sports. They also do not get the motivation or the encouragement from their families. So they choose not to devote their lives to such sports.

RS: What steps are being taken to solve these problems?

SC: The Federation and BFTS are both trying to encourage and motivate the girls. BFTS makes the practice sessions more interesting so that the girls enjoy playing this game and their passion for basketball increases. We are also trying to ensure them that they can also attain a very bright future and reach a great zenith in life.

RS: What are the criteria that have to be present in a person if he/she wants to join the team?

SC: The most important criteria that has to be present in each player of the team is interest. If one is not devoted to the game and do not have any passion for it, then one will never be able to do well once they are in the team. Secondly, they have to have a reasonable amount of basketball skills in them. Also, preferably the player should be tall.

RS: How bright is the future of basketball in Bangladesh?

SC: I think it is very bright. The men's team is performing pretty well and hopefully we will soon have a women's team as well. But it is all up to the young children. We depend on their cooperation. If they are interested in basketball and practice hard I am confident that they can lead our country to victory.


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