The men's national kabaddi and Olympic (U-23) football team of Bangladesh were neglected by the Bangladesh Olympic Association in the primary selection of disciplines for the next Asian Games, scheduled to be held this year in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, while the women's national football side were included for the first time among the preliminary list of 11 disciplines.
The remarkable achievement of the young Bangladesh girls both in the youth and senior level in the last three years left no option for the BOA but to include the women's football team. But the omission of the men's football and kabaddi teams from the primary selection raised quite a few questions.
Bangladesh sent their men's kabaddi team in every edition of the Asian Games, since the inclusion of kabaddi in 1990. And the discipline earned the country the runners-up title three times and bronze medals twice. The only exceptions came in the last two editions where they returned empty handed.
The Asian Games has long been considered a vital event for the football team since Bangladesh made their first appearance in 2002. The team participated in every edition since then and gathered experience playing against different Asian teams. This is where Bangladesh beat Afghanistan three years ago.
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Following a meeting of the steering committee of BOA Saturday night, 11 disciplines were primarily selected - Women's football, women's kabaddi, archery, golf, beach volleyball, shooting, hockey, bridge, wrestling, swimming and basketball. From the last edition of the Incheon Games 2014 in South Korea, three disciplines - Gymnastics, karate and taekwondo - were not considered.
The reason behind omitting men's football and kabaddi was down to their recent performance. The senior football side had no international fixture this year while the 2016 World Cup was the kabaddi team's last notable international tournament.
Like the Olympics, the Asian Games football teams also comprise the U-23 players, including only three senior players, but Bangladesh youth teams’ (U-18 and U-19) performance in the Saff and AFC tournaments in 2017 was positive and praiseworthy. The kabaddi team, who didn't take part in the Asian Championship last month due to lack of preparation, already started their training camp for the Asian Games early last month.
"The men's youth teams have done very well in recent times. We couldn't win the Saff U-18 Championship due to head-to-head and the U-19 team also performed well in Tajikistan (AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers). A decent Olympic squad could have been formed with these players."
The selections however, are not final yet and both football and kabaddi federation informed that they will discuss the matter with the country's Olympic governing body soon.
Meanwhile, BFF general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag said, "We earlier sent them letters to include both the men's and women's team. I also talked to Syed Shahed Reza (BOA's secretary general) regarding this matter and he said the selection is only in primary level. I hope the men's team will also be included too."