Infrastructures Across The Country
Sport has been dying in Dinajpur although it was in the centrestage of the border district not so long ago. Lack of enthusiasm has turned the sports arena into a sleeping quarter and the limping district sports association (DSA) has failed to generate enough funds to run activities. The northern town has also failed to produce a quality athlete in the new millennium.
After the Liberation War, Dinajpur hosted all sorts of games -- indoor and outdoor -- utilising its vast infrastructure. The district is proud of having one of the biggest stadium complexes in the country including gymnasium, squash court, modern swimming pool and separate grounds for volleyball and handball.
However, these facilities have remained unused for long due to lack of fund. Although football, cricket, volleyball, swimming, athletics and badminton are being played occasionally, games like kabaddi, basketball, table tennis, handball, hockey, boxing or squash have been all but exterminated.
The DSA was formed in 1948 but it took some time to get shape and sport was at its top in the 60s. The united efforts of some devoted organisers saw the Sher-e-Bangla Gold Cup come to Dinajpur, which still remains the highlight of its sporting history.
In the early 80s, a gymnasium was built with government fund and gymnasts of the district dominated the national scene as a result. However, once the annual donation (Tk 40,000) from the National Sports Council that kept things going was stopped, Dinajpur could not maintain the standard despite the sincerity of the local organisers. The equipment that once helped prepare the gymnasts for the national competitions, became extinct and very soon, gymnastics was not any more the proud of Dinajpur.
To revive the sporting culture, the government in 1997 took the decision to open a complete sports institute -- Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishthan -- here. According to the plan, all the infrastructure of the Dinajpur wing of BKSP was completed but suddenly, the present government decided to abandon the 13-crore Tk project on June 30, 2005.
After the limited success of the BKSP in Savar, the government began works to set up two BKSPs at Chittagong and Dinapjur to boost youngsters in the southern and northern parts. In 2000, the site for the Dinajpur institute at Bansherhat was selected some six kilometres away from the city beside the Dhaka-Dinajpur highway. A total of 12.4 acres of land, which was allotted for the district hockey complex, was also acquired for the BKSP.
For the first phase (2000/01-2001/02 fiscal year) works, the allotment was 4.5 crore taka. During this period, two grounds were prepared apart from building the boundary wall, a 100-bed training hostel, administrative building and pump-house. In June 2002, it appointed 35 staffs including an assistant director, one chief coach, two cricket coaches, two football coaches and two athletics coaches.
In the second phase (2002/03-2003/04 fiscal year), 9-crore taka was allotted to acquire 4.18-acre land for a football ground, build staff quarters, officers quarters and modern gymnasium and an eight-lane swimming pool costing about Tk three crore.
Dinajpur boasts the country's one of the biggest stadium complexes that also includes a modern swimming pool. However, lack of fund has kept sportsmen in the border-town off it
The regional BKSP successfully organised ten residential training camps for football, cricket and athletics apart from hosting the under-13 zonal cricket competition. State Minister for Youth Sports Fazlur Rahman not only praised the new 'sporting proud' of Dinajpur but also promised to bring the Prime Minister for the official inauguration.
When everyone was hoping for the revival of the district's sporting glory, it was thunderstruck when the Finance Ministry informed the Sports Ministry that it would not be able to support the development of the regional BKSP in the new fiscal year.
The decision of the government to abandon Dinajpur BKSP to uncertainty and giving announcement of building four new BKSPs in divisional headquarters (Chittagong, Khulna, Sylhet, Barisal) at a cost of Tk 54 crore at the same time not only surprised the sport fraternity of Dinajpur but also raised eyebrows about the real intention of the government. If talent hunting and grooming youngsters for future is the policy of the government, why should it abandon a project that had cost it more than Tk 13.5 crore?
Meanwhile, the football scene in Dinajpur, the land that once produced a footballer like Jadukar Samad, is worse. Ignored for the past 26 years, the district football stadium has turned into a grazing field for cattle. Football has not been played here for half a decade and during the rainy season, the ground remains under knee-deep water.
The stadium, built in 1979, hosted football, cricket and hockey on regular basis until politics split the organisers. Even repeated appeals of sports lovers to renovate the ground went in the begging due to lack of fund from the government and lack of sincere organisers.
The way things are going now, it seems that the glory days of Dinajpur sports will never return. Players from Dinajpur once represented the country in football, cricket, volleyball, cycling and weightlifting. The district, however, is really proud of its female athletes and gymnasts like 17-time high jump champion Shamima Sattar Mimu and Rawshan Ara Chobi, the top gymnast in the 80s. Shahidur Rahman set five national cycling records while Faruk Sarkar Kajal won a SAFF Games medal in weightlifting. But the current generation is not being inspired to follow in their footsteps.