Host Bangladesh have the highest number of female archers - 11 - among the 32 participating countries in the Asian Archery Championship 2017. Only India have a larger contingent in this year’s championship – 31 - which includes six coaches, but no female representatives.
Bangladesh's only female coach in the Asian Archery Championship, Ami Chakma, who completed level two coaching course last year, along with two other female participants, Rumana and Nodi, has been an active presence within the team.
Ami started playing archery more than a decade ago and among her team mates, only Beauty Ray is still active, in the four-member recurve women's side, along with Radia Akter Shapla, Nasrin Akter and Rabeya Khatun. Ami played for the national team and Ansar & VDP till 2012 and participated in the Asian Archery Championship in Delhi, Commonwealth Games, South Asian Games and two Grand Prix events. She also won gold in the first ever National Archery Championship.
"When we started off, we didn't get enough facilities and equipment. Now we have many equipments as well as facilities. I hope the things we couldn't have done before, the future archers will achieve that," said Ami, who hails from Rangamati.
She added, "If the female archers stick to the game, and get regular training facilities then they can give more to the nation. We couldn't participate in the Olympics but now we go to the Olympics. I hope we will one day shine in the Olympics too."
Shapla and Rabeya will also be participating in the continental qualifiers for the Youth Olympic Games, along with squad's youngest member, Ety Khatun. Archer Shyamoli Roy took part in the Rio Olympics 2016 in the women’s individual recurve event.
It was Bangladesh's Indian coach Nisith Das whose scouting brought Ami and many others to the game of archery. Nisith said he toured district to district to form the first 12-member Bangladesh team, including six female archers.
"We now have many archers (female) in the pipeline. We very much need female coaches in Bangladesh. The female archers cannot share everything with us and involving more women coaches would inspire the others," said Nisith.
The women’s compound team comprising Susmita Banik, Roksana Akter, Bonna Akter and Bipasa Akter made a bright start in Asia's mega event. In the qualification round, Roksana was placed 13th out of 34 participants while Susmita, Bonna and Bipasa finished 21st, 26th and 34th respectively. Roksana, Susmita and Bonna played directly in the top 16 elimination round before losing against the opponents from Vietnam, Chinese Taipei and South Korea respectively.
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Indonesia, Lebanon, Sri Lanka and Yemen do not have any women archers in their team while Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia and Singapore sent only one female archer to Asian Archery Championship.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh compound women's team will face Chinese Taipei in the quarter-finals in the concluding day Thursday.