If Thursday's scenes at the BNS are anything to go by, Bangladesh football is well and truly alive, and still in the hearts of the people of the sports-mad nation
The trinity of football, once told by a famous coach, is made up of three things - players, coaches and spectators.
Sadly, the beautiful game is in a morbid state in Bangladesh, with a low place in the global ranking and irregular domestic arena, among other aspects, yet one thing still illuminates with vigor - the sheer passion of spectators.
It is true that, in Dhaka, a city with immense congestion, it is tough to visit the stadium to enjoy football matches.
Moreover, the easy access of global football through television and other media outlets has made the watching of “below-par” games less rewarding.
Hence, the Bangabandhu stadium in the capital often stages matches with almost empty stands.
However, the scenes here Thursday were completely different.
The 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup joint qualifiers game between Bangladesh and Qatar changed the atmosphere of BNS into a crowded, noisy and festive-like occasion.
Dhaka usually becomes unendurable in the last day of the week, and the incessant downpour throughout the day turned it into an apocalyptic situation.
Yet the gates of BNS saw an influx of thousands of people in the queue who wanted to enjoy the game, holding the Bangladesh flag in their hands and showcasing their love for the game.
One of them was sexagenarian Rafiqul Islam, who came to the BNS from Mirpur through a local bus that took over three hours to reach its destination.
But despite all those toils, he was cheering with a green-red hairband and was eager to see the local boys take on the Asian champion at the historic ground.
He was actually one of many enthusiasts.
The scene was so unusual that Robiul, one of the gatemen, was bamboozled along with the security guards, who normally don’t have anything to do during a match.
The likes of Robiul had their hands full as the spectators were on the verge of breaking the tiny entry gates of different galleries.
“This scene is unbelievable. I do not know when I last saw so much crowd at the BNS,” said one of the security guards.
The law enforcement agencies, who were trying to ease the pressure in the gates, also echoed the same sentiment.
And, inside the stadium, the galleries were full with the crowd cheering every moment.
When local boy Nabib Newaj Jibon almost scored a goal, the crowd of over 20,000 erupted like an earthquake only to agonize moments later over the near miss.
The Dhaka Pioneer League is going to commence within a few days and some teams of the root-level tournament also took the opportunity to experience such an occasion.
Many teams visited the stadium wearing their outfits and a team from faraway Jessore, the Shamsul Huda Football Academy, came with their full squad.
The squad, now practicing in Munshiganj, was ecstatic to arrive at the home of football and the occasion will surely boost their dreams further.
Amid the vocal crowd under the torrential rain in a surrealistic like carnival atmosphere, many young footballers present here must have dreamt of entering into the theater of passion, the greatest arena, in an international football match, following in the footsteps of Jamal Bhuiyan and Co.
If Thursday's scenes at the BNS are anything to go by, Bangladesh football is well and truly alive, and still in the hearts of the people of the sports-mad nation.