The Asian Kabaddi Championship 2017 is currently taking place in Iran with the participation of 10 countries but Bangladesh Kabaddi Federation, despite the game being the country's national sport, didn't send its men's and women's team to take part in the continental kabaddi event due to “lack of fund”.
The national kabaddi players said they have missed out on the opportunity to increase their experience as well as staying up-to-date with the other Asian kabaddi giants ahead of next year's Asian Games, terming it a big loss, while the coaches also admitted the importance of participating in such international tournaments, reminding that the situation is nothing new.
Veteran coach Subimal Chandra Das, who has been involved with the country's kabaddi for more than 40 years, informed that the last time Bangladesh participated in the Asian Championship in 1988 in Joypur, India, they won silver medal, finishing only behind the host.
"I think one of the key reasons is financial problem. We couldn't take part in this tournament in the 1990s because there was not enough money. Unlike the Asian Games, Olympics and World Cup, the Asian Championship organisers do not bear full expenditure of the participating teams. The plane tickets are costly when it is played anywhere except India," said Subimal.
Subimal was the head coach of the 1988 national team where Abdul Jalil was a player. Jalil started his coaching career in 1995 and the 52-year-old was the head coach of the national team when they last participated in a three-nation kabaddi tournament in Nepal three months ago. The two matches against Nepal and India however, didn't hear the final whistle as Bangladesh blamed and protested against the “partiality” of the organisers.
When queried about Bangladesh's absence from the Asian Championship since 1988, Jalil said they have been “organisationally weak” for a long time. The National Sports Council's kabaddi coach added, "I don't know why Bangladesh are not participating or if they even got the invitation from the organisers. The federation can only tell."
The kabaddi federaion general secretary and joint-secretary couldn't be reached over phone despite repeated attempts. Its treasurer Abdul Haque told Dhaka Tribune that they received the invitation before their Nepal tour. "At that time we were focused on the Nepal tournament. We thought if we play well in Nepal we would send the team to Iran. But Nepal tour ended on a disappointing note and it cost us Tk eight-nine lakhs. We needed the fund. We didn't have enough players as well to arrange a camp to prepare the team," said Abdul, adding that they are now focusing more on next year's Asian Games in August and have already started preparing for the Games.
Bangladesh's last World Cup captain Arduzzaman Munshi informed that they have not participated in the Indoor Asian Games since 2009 and also missed out on an Asian Beach Games edition.
He said, "We the players badly need to participate in these tournaments regularly. If we had played in the current Asian Championship, we will have the chance to put up better performance in the Asian Games next year."
Zakir Hossain has also been a key member of the national team. He is one of three Bangladesh players who have participated in the Pro Kabaddi League in India for the franchise Patna Riders. He echoed the same sentiment to that of Arduzzaman, saying, "I can't tell approximately guess how much we lost by not going to Iran. We could have played against the top Asian teams. We could have known where we stand. And we could have won the bronze there. It will affect our performance in the Asian Games big time."
To add to that, Bangladesh were scheduled to host the Asian Kabaddi tournament in 1980, 1988 and 1993 but backtracked at the last moment on each occasion due to lack of sponsor. Committees were formed but to no avail.