Sports, Football

Lack of dev plan hinders booters’ success

Published : 28 Mar 2024 09:15 PM

Despite the immense popularity of football in Bangladesh, the national team struggles due to a lack of development plans. Previously strong, the team now falls behind due to a failure to nurture young talent. 

The absence of proper and continuous scouting systems, lack of high quality academies and financial support for young players hinders development. This results in a lack of physical conditioning and technical skills compared to international competition. Consequently, the team's underwhelming performance pushes young fans towards cricket, a currently more successful sport.

Football thrived in Bangladesh since the 1950s, competing against powerhouses like Japan and Korea in the Asian Cup. However, the rise of cricket in the 1990s diminished football's popularity. Compared to other South Asian countries, Bangladesh's overall football culture is not significantly weaker, creating a talent gap for the national team. 

In the other countries of the SAFF Region, academies are run with the sponsorship by the government and quality booters have been produced from there to create a proper pipeline for the national team. Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) also began the process and recent times some quality booters also has been produced who have been representing the national team.              

However, now the overall popularity of football in Bangladesh is decreasing comparing to any other South Asian country. Though there is a national league and club football but the new generation has less interest in football. There is a merit gap in the Bangladeshi football field.

The national team's recent performance (2023-March 2024) is a mixed bag. While they won four and drew as many matches out of 14 matches, their determination was evident in the World Cup Qualifiers against Maldives. This fighting spirit suggests they can compete against tougher upcoming opponents like Australia, Palestine and Lebanon. However, they could not muster a positive result in both the legs against Palestine recently. Earlier, after suffering crushing 0-5 defeat to the war torn country, Bangladesh lost the match by 1-0 in the dying seconds of the match in the return leg on Tuesday. 

Interestingly, national women's team stands in sharp contrast to the men's team. They achieved a 60% win rate in 15 matches and even clinched trophies at the youth level. This highlights the potential for success with proper development structures.

Despite reaching the 2023 SAFF Championship semifinals, the men's team hasn't won a major title since 2003. Their repeated failures have dampened hope. However, the women's team's achievements offer a beacon of hope for the future of Bangladeshi football, if similar development efforts are implemented.