• Friday, Nov 27, 2020
  • Last Update : 11:02 pm

Covid-19: Jobless BJMC athletes in utter dismay

  • Published at 08:11 pm April 16th, 2020
Gymnastics
Shishir Ahmed and Sonia Akter, the newly married gymnastics couple, have been struggling to make ends meet since both lost their temporary jobs as casual worker at Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation at the end of December last year

Some 248 athletes and coaches from 11 sports disciplines, previously employed as temporary labor of BJMC at 25 mills without a contract paper, were cut off from their regular earnings of around Tk1,700-1,800 a week last December as part of cutbacks following losses incurred by the corporation

Shishir Ahmed and Sonia Akter, the newly married gymnastics couple, have been struggling to make ends meet since both lost their temporary jobs as casual worker at Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation at the end of last December.

The financial crisis of the young couple reached a new height since the lockdown was imposed in the country due to the Covid-19 outbreak. 

As things are, surviving at a tiny apartment in Dhaka’s Khilgaon area is becoming more and more unbearable with each passing day.

They are yet to pay the house rent of last month and merely passing the days relying on some support from Bangladesh Gymnastic Federation.

“I told the house owner that I can’t pay the rent of Tk7,000. I don’t know when I’ll be able to pay because I have no income at the moment and nowhere to go as well,” Shishir told to Dhaka Tribune Thursday.

Shishir and Sonia tied the knot last year but their parents are yet to accept the marriage. 

Sonia lost her job within a month she got it.

She also represented BJMC in different domestic competitions before being enrolled as casual worker of the state-run corporation last December.

Shishir, who graduated from Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishthan in 2017 and joined BJMC in 2018, informed that he has not received three months’ wages while Sonia only managed to receive one-week’s salary in early January this year.

“We are merely surviving since we lost our jobs, thanks to the support of Jamil [Habibur Rahman] bhai and others from BGF. But the situation is harder now owing to lockdown,” added Shishir, who has four podium finishes in national competitions by the age of only 20.

Some 248 athletes and coaches from 11 sports disciplines, previously employed as temporary labor of BJMC at 25 mills without a contract paper, were cut off from their regular earnings of around Tk1,700-1,800 a week last December as part of cutbacks following losses incurred by the corporation.

Jamil, a BKSP alumni, is a former national gymnast and coach of BJMC gymnastic team from 2013 to 2019, elaborated the wider impact of sudden termination of hundreds of BJMC athletes and coaches, including him just before the turn of New Year.

“Around Tk7,200 per month was a big support for the athletes and their families. Many families of the athletes were fully dependent on this income. The players also bear the costs of their studies while reducing family burden. All are under dismay due to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Jamil, also a BGF member.

Arifuzzaman, who participated in the last national athletics, said, “I broke my leg while playing in the national meet but BJMC didn’t even ask how we are doing. Got my last payment in the third week of last December. It’s not possible to survive in Dhaka with no money. So I’m back to Gaibandha. Don’t what I will do.”

Some other jobless BJMC athletes like Samiul Islam, Bulbuli Khatun and Kobita Ray and coach Mobarak Hossain Tipu’s earning struggles also came to light in recent times.

Some pleas to support the struggling athletes are also underway.

Bangladesh Athletics Federation general secretary Abdur Rakib Mantu informed that they have raised a fund of Tk6 lakhs out of a target of Tk 10 lakhs to support current and former national athletes, coaches and referees who are struggling to earn their daily bread in the Covid-19 situation while Bangladesh ODI captain Tamim Iqbal Tuesday decided to bear the expenses of Samiul’s family.

Discipline wise, athletics have the most number of players at BJMC totaling around 100, said Mohammad Abdul Quddus, the co-coordinator official of BJMC. 

Also a founder-cum-player, he joined as BJMC cycling coach in 1997 as casual worker before the job got permanent in 1999.

Quddus mentioned the names of BJMC stars like Majibur Rahman Mallick, Tofazzal Hossain, Shah Alam, Nizar Hossain, Nely Jesmin, Josna Afroz, Josna Akter, Delowar Hossain, Rokeya Khuki, Shammi Akter and the list goes on and on.

Quddus said, “BJMC is considered as the ‘nursery’ stage of many national athletes. Many goes to other teams due to better salary and facilities but some stick to BJMC, most of them are students who play, study and support family with the little income. They called me and told about their current hardships. Some of them can’t just beg or ask for money due to the reputation they earned as player and coach.”

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