The traditional kite-flying is going on in the old part of the capital.



Fantastic fifteen means a lot to us

THE fourteenth day in the year of the Georgian calendar is not one of those special days people around the world remember for a significant happening. It is however only in the sub-continent, the day is marked as Sankranti -- the annual kite-flying day. For The Daily Star, January 14 is a date etched in history.

It was on this very day in 1991 the English daily started its challenging journey to be the best. Since then it has not always been a straight line upward but there is a definite sense of satisfaction as it celebrates its 15th anniversary.

The time span is of course not a landmark compared to other established newspapers in the world but it is enough to reflect on the growing up of the now single most popular English daily.

There is no denying that the sports section has always been the strength of The Daily Star for just not because it added diversity but for creating a readership of its own.

And as the newspaper celebrates its entry into the 'fantastic fifteen' the sport team takes the opportunity to go down the memory lane and focus on how things have grown up in a playful mirth.

We deem it fitting to address how it all started in the tranquil settings of Dhanmondi after a brief stay in the city's commercial hub of Motijheel.

It is not an understatement that the sport section was regarded as a poor cousin of the mainstream newspaper when The Daily Star was launched 15 years ago. Understandably sport was allotted just one page during that era of black and whites. Fortunately there was a separate cubicle for those sports-scribes mainly due to the house-lord's desire to keep the two-storied building in Dhanmondi in its original shape.

The separation had done a world of good for the sport section as it not only allowed them to think independently but also gave them the courage to push the boundaries. It took only a year for the sport section to become a proud owner of two pages and after that successful publication of the 1994 Football World Cup Supplement, The Daily Star realised that it was about time the sport section had three pages.

Not only that the successful publication of the ground-breaking 1994 World Cup supplement, which was sold out in a whisker, led the other English dailies in town to believe that the otherwise 'neglected' section had a future ahead and deserved more than just one page.

But it could not happen without the foresightedness of leaders like Afzal H Khan, the first sport editor who assembled some rookie yet fanatic sports enthusiasts to turn their first love into a path-breaking career.

We also want to show our deep respect to a great sports lover Towfiq Aziz Khan who like a school teacher with a wand drove us to aim higher till his last day with The Daily Star.

The 52-page supplement is the biggest venture of the sports section where we made an endeavour to reflect on a range of issues of pain and pleasure. Since cricket and football claim the biggest stake than any other sports in the country, we have invited some extraordinary individuals to take pen and paper and focus on those two successful sports they once dominated.

Kazi Salahuddin is arguably the best footballer the country has ever produced. He was the crown prince of our football in the 70s. And even after three decades he is the cat's whisker when it comes to talking about football. We are proud that the great striker bares his soul in an elaborate interview.

Our cricket could not have come this far without the contributions of a few individuals like Akram Khan, Aminul Islam, Gazi Ashraf Hossain, Minhazul Abedin, Faruque Ahmed and etc.

Although they are masters in their own field and have taken the sports-lovers of the country to dreamlands with their sheer skills and dedication time and again, they have hardly assumed the role of a writer. They might be rookies in this field but we believe all of them scored fluent hundreds.

Turning to the chessboard, the success of two individuals is mountainous. Niaz Murshed's ascendance as a Grand Master was something even our big neighbours India did not boast at that time. And just to show that the country has prospect in this particular indoor game, Ziaur Rahman followed suit.

Asif Hossain Khan shot to Commonwealth Games glory at the age of only 15 just to show that we have the talent hidden here and there. What we need is to assemble those talents together and put them in tough regimentation to bring more laurels for the nation.

Women in our sports might be struggling, but table tennis star Jobera Rahman Linu is a shining example for others to follow.

In our supplement we have also tried to focus on the infrastructural development across the country.

Also along the way we have lost some individuals who by their own rights were iconic in their respective fields and we tried to remember them with deepest of our respect.

For a change we have also decided to introduce the 'naughty' sport team to our readers with a belief it will evoke a lot of laughter.

However, fifteen years is a long time when you are talking about the past. So many things come across your mind that you will find it hard to select which you will write on and which not. Yet you have to choose and while doing that we tried to highlight every aspect of our sports that has happened during this period. We don't know how much successful we have been in doing that but it will be so nice of you readers if you take our slips sportingly.

-- Sports Editor

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