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Bangladesh women’s football team makes a mark at SAG

Shillong: They might not have clinched the women’s football title at the 12th South Asian Games, but the Bangladesh team has certainly made a mark in the event in which they secured a bronze.
Bangladesh have had a fairly impressive run in this year’s edition of the tournament and that can be largely owed to the growing changes constantly developing in its women’s football scene. At SAG 2016 they won two matches against Sri Lanka (2-1) and Maldives (2-0), scoring five goals in all.
According to Bangladesh coach Golam Robbani Choton, a 2014 women’s football tournament held in seven different venues saw the participation of girls from 40 districts spread across the country.
The purpose of the tournament was to promote women’s football and shortlist players for the national squad.
The Bangladesh Football Federation put together a team of 14 elite coaches who trained for a month before heading out on a scouting mission and returning with 210 players of which 45 were shortlisted for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-14 tournament.
The present national squad comprises of nine U-14 players, a clear indication that the Bangladesh Football Federation is laying emphasis on developing women’s football from a grass root level as indicated by Choton.
“Earlier, most of our players were nearing 20 years of age when they started playing professional football. The plan now is to train young players under 14 years of age so that by the time they grow older, they would have enhanced their playing skills,” he said.
Another interesting point is that the present national line-up features five players (Sanjida Akhter, Sheuli Azim, Marzia, Shamsunnahar, Maria Manda) from a common district, Mymensingh located in the central region of Bangladesh. Football is popular in Mymensingh and several local tournaments are organised every year.
Adding to this, Bangladesh is now witnessing an increasing popularity in women’s football in comparison to only a few years ago with parents encouraging their daughters to take up the world’s most popular sport as a profession.
“With their success in the national side, players like Sabina Khatun and Maynu Marma are now employed. Sabina is working at an administrative level in a jute mill while Maynu is in a police department,” Choton added.

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