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Underground football here to stay

  • Published at 05:53 pm August 29th, 2016
Underground football here to stay
There are a host of tournaments, namely the Bangladesh Premier League, Independence Cup, Federation Cup and Super Cup, for the hundreds of professional footballers in the country. But as far as the amateur booters are concerned, underground football is the only platform where they can showcase their skills. Underground football started its journey around 2005 when a handful of school- and university-going students got together for a common purpose – playing against each other in tournaments in order to retain their competitive spirit and maintain their fitness. Since then, underground football has grown from strength to strength as participation among the youngsters, mostly hailing from solvent financial backgrounds, grew rapidly. At that time, there were four-five champion teams around, the likes of Seven Nation Army, Amigos, DOHS United and Josephite Soccer Knights lifting titles more often than not. With the passage of time however, a number of underground teams transformed themselves into formidable units, thanks to the huge influx of players. Now, around 40-50 sides can be labelled as underground title-winning outfit. There are several reasons why underground football has come on in leaps and bounds over the years, as Galacticos midfielder Shahidul Islam Ratul points out. “For us amateur players, who do not harbour hopes of playing the game professionally, underground football is the way to go. It enables us to maintain our fitness and refrain from doing bad activities, like drugs,” said Shahidul. “Moreover, through underground football tournaments, we can keep in touch with our friends, which would have been difficult otherwise,” he added. However, just like any other aspect in this world, underground football too has to encounter hurdles every once in a while. “Often when sports organisers want to hold a tournament, they find out that there is a shortage of available fields. As a result, they have to resort to indoor venues. On top of that, some of us also have to face opposition from our parents,” said Zareer Kazi, who played for Sunbeams school and few other underground teams. “Most of the fields are used for cricket. Therefore, we are left with no other options but to play in sub-standard fields. Still, we manage, because we love the game, come what may,” he added. Although the Bangladesh Football Federation and its scouts barely turn a careful eye on the underground football events, the non-professional footballers don't mind, as long as they keep fulfilling their passion and are in touch with the game they dearly love.