Imrul gave an exclusive interview to Dhaka Tribune where he talked about his dream of creating a football club which would lead both in Bangladesh and in the Asian stage
New top-flight outfit Bashundhara Kings made a flying start in their debut season with a star-studded squad. They reached the Federation Cup final before winning the Independence Cup title last month. The club’s president Imrul Hasan, who termed himself a “big fan of football”, was one of the squad members during the maiden title-winning campaign in the Championship League last season. Imrul gave an exclusive interview to Dhaka Tribune where he talked about his dream of creating a football club which would lead both in Bangladesh and in the Asian stage.
How did Bashundhara start their journey?
Bashundhara came into being in 2013. In 2016, they took part in the Pioneer League. And in 2017, for the first time, the Kings found themselves in the Bangladesh Championship League. And, they came out winning as the maiden champion. This year will see the Kings play in the Premier League. They have already won the title of Shadinota Cup 2018, and finished runners-up of Federation Cup 2018. They are the lone team who showed their interest to play outside Dhaka. They already made Nilphamari their home venue. These are all nothing, but the testament of their indomitable spirit. The management of Bashundhara Group is complete sports lovers. Bashundhara Group has been sponsoring different popular clubs and teams of the country. We want to spread the spirit of sports to the youth of our society. We believe that we can engage the youth with our club, as well as bring out more young talents for the country. And Inshallah, it will eventually help to bring back our glory days of football.
What was the initial plan and goal of the club?
As I said, the initial plan was to involve the youth with the sport. We want to spread out the spirit and excitement of football to all. Our goal is to bring back the glory days of our football. Bashundhara want the galleries to be jam-packed with the spectators watching football as it was in the 80s or 90s. But this is not going to happen overnight. From our part, we have been steadily trying to motivate today's youth. As part of that, we are building up a fan base all over the country, creating facebook content regularly to keep them engaged. In the meantime, we hosted a jersey-design contest that created quite a stir and ran a predict-and-win contest too. Our officials are roaming around the country to create a fanbase in every corner of our country. They are now working in Faridpur district. Behind all these attempts, it was on our mind that if the motivation could be restored, the galleries would never wear an empty look.
How do you evaluate the Kings’ performance in the first two tournaments of the season – Federation Cup and Independence Cup?
The players of Bashundhara did a tremendous performance in both the tournaments. We are very satisfied with the performances. I wish, we could win the trophy of Federation Cup. That would help us to play in the AFC Cup. But still what the boys did on the ground was very satisfactory for us. I think having a runners-up trophy and a champion’s trophy in the debut tournaments are the best things we can expect from the team.
Whose performance impressed you the most?
We have arranged every possible facility for the players to develop themselves. We have a high profile coach and trainer with some experienced ex-players of our country as mentors. Besides, we have recently inaugurated our own gym in the club for keeping the players in their best fitness. Every player of the team has performed great in both the tournaments. If I have to choose any particular player, I would say Daniel Colindres was the most impressive, as expected. And among the Bangladeshi players, Matin (Mia), (Masuk Mia) Joni, Emon (Babu), (Mohammad) Ibrahim, Nasir (Uddin Chowdhury), (Anisur Rahman) Zico have showed their potential so beautifully.
What do you say about combining the national team players and foreign booters. Will Mahbubur Rahman Sufil continue to play out of position?
Both the national and foreign players are doing a great job on the field. Sufil is a great talent. He has great influence in every game of ours. He may have to play in different positions. It is because some of our regular defenders are going through injuries. Besides, Sushanta Tripura has been banned for six official matches. Sufil was a great help for the team at this problematic time. He has proved that he can play in different roles as well. As soon as we get our main defenders back, we will surely play Sufil in his preferred position.
What was the reason behind signing World Cupper Colindres? Any plans for the mid transfer window?
The reason behind signing Colindres was simple; we wanted to have top-class footballers in our team. And as a recent World Cupper, he is full of experience at the biggest stage of football. He shares his experiences with the young players of our team. That will surely help the young footballers to develop themselves. The plan for the mid-season window is to bring one or two quality right- or left-backs in the team. That’s where we’ve been suffering the most.
What’s the target in the league this season? Who are the title favourites?
After outstanding performances from the boys in both the Federation Cup and Independence Cup, the target of this season is of course to be the champion of the Bangladesh Premier League. Apart from Bashundhara, to me the hot favourites this season are Abahani Limited, Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra and Saif Sporting Club.
What is the club’s ultimate ambition?
Well, for the next target, we want to be the champion of the BPL. The ultimate ambition of the club is to be the best club of the country. We want to make a mark in Asian club football as well. We dream big! Inshallah, one day the dreams will come true.