In the football history of independent Bangladesh, Bashundhara Kings emerged as a “pioneer” in the practice of full professionalism in a football club. Due to the intense love, enthusiasm and interest of Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, Managing Director Sayem Sobhan Anvir and other family members, the team has emerged in the football arena. The father and all his children love to dream. They want to watch football in good conditions at home and abroad. All of them have a vision, goal and objective focused on the most popular game in the country. Football has been mixed in the blood of all members of the Bashundhara family.
The president of the club, Imrul Hassan, assured the president of the Bashundhara Group, Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, that spectators would fill the field to witness the football match of a corporate team if it is made up of local and foreign players. Keeping faith in the safety of him, the president of the Bashundhara Group gave the ‘green signal’ and the Bashundhara Kings began their journey. Since its inception, efforts have been made in a disciplined manner to establish it as an ‘aggregate place’ brand. This is the first example in the country’s football culture of taking the initiative to do the necessary ‘homework’.
The Bashundhara Kings’ catchphrase is ‘Born to Win’. Victory is not only in competition at the field level, but also over all the impediments that stand in the way of football development. Not only is it involved in the field as a club, but Bashundhara Group has sponsored football leagues and tournaments in all spheres. From the very beginning, Bashundhara Group promoted football in the country.
Thanks to the skilful leadership of the club president, Imrul Hassan, it has been possible to make Bashundhara Kings football acceptable and popular among the people in just five years. The team has been identified as unbeatable in the country’s soccer. The team has its own identity and has been able to create resonance everywhere. The club is worth emulating, especially in professional football.
They have won eight trophies (except for the 2019-’20 season when the game was abandoned due to the Covid-19 pandemic) in five years. Of them, Bashundhara Kings’ extraordinary feat of winning the Premier League title for four seasons in a row is worth mentioning. After winning the League title for the fourth time, FIFA President Gianni Infantino greeted Bashundhara Kings. In a congratulatory letter sent to the BFF President, he wrote that through hard work, passion and perseverance, Bashundhara Kings won the League title. Everyone can be proud of it. My sincere congratulations to everyone involved.
Thanks to football, Bashundhara Kings is now known beyond the borders of the country. Bashundhara Kings is a great brand for Bashundhara Group. The informed circle is watching him. In recent times, Bashundhara Group sponsored the 14thhe SAAF Football Championship held in Bangalore, India. They have called it ‘Bangabandhu SAFF Football Championship 2023’.
In the second week of June, a workshop was held in Penang, Malaysia, where world sports columnists, soccer writers and experts participated. In a ‘case study’ session, the Bashundhara Group of Bangladesh was highly praised for building the necessary infrastructures in the field of professional football. In South East Asia, no other country has built a club level modern sports complex with its own international level stadium with all modern facilities by spending taka crores. Ultimately, this has improved Bangladesh’s image abroad. In the ultra-modern stadium of Bashundhara Kings, international matches and various tournaments as well as championships can be organized. For professional football, this is only the Bashundhara Kings who have met the one hundred percent requirements of the AFC and FIFA.
As the first team of Bangladesh, Bashundhara Kings will represent the country in the AFC Championship League. He will play against a strong team like Sharjah FC consisting of outstanding star players at the Sharjah Stadium on August 15 this year. The winning team will have to cross another hurdle by playing against Iran’s ‘Tractor Club’ on August 22 this year. The AFC Championship League is always full of tough matches. The club is now preparing to put the right player in the right position. Self-confidence is the most essential. Bashundhara Kings is a team that thinks of nothing but victory. In the past five years, Bashundhara Kings is shining brightly in Bangladeshi football. Since its inception, Óscar Bruzón has remained at Bashundhara Kings as a coach. He has been able to link all the players in one thread. Bruzón is a coach with a positive attitude. He enjoys the trust of the club committee. Bashundhara Kings will play in the AFC Champions League. The coach says: “It is essential to play much better in the Champions League.”
Responding to inquiries, Bashundhara Kings Chairman Imrul Hassan said: “Bashundhara Kings now look at the arena of international football. The main goal is to do well internationally. If we can do well internationally, the prestige of Bangladesh will multiply. To do it right, we have relied on foreign players. Previously, we couldn’t perform to expectations, but we did well internationally. Abahani Limited Dhaka once secured a place in the semi-finals of the 2019 AFC Inter-Zone Cup but failed to do well in other seasons. Comparatively, the performance of Bashundhara Kings is better and encouraging as well. In the next AFC Champions League, our goal is to advance to the group stage.”
In response to another query, Imrul Hassan said: “I admit that the local players lack the required skill. There are a few reasons behind this. In the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), there is a lack of competitiveness. Compared to the Indian Premier League (IPL), the difference is in competitiveness. It can be said that there is little difference between the foreign players from India and Bangladesh. But in the case of local players, there is a lack of maturity”.
As a newcomer, Bashundhara Kings was successful. In domestic soccer, it advances by staying behind the popular traditional teams. Club management by professional executives is the reason for the Kings’ success. Skilled workforce is committed to guiding the team through experience, wisdom, forward thinking, new thinking and discipline. Kings biggest strength is that he gets all kinds of cooperation from Bashundhara Group management. Its only objective is to awaken football in the country with everyone’s effort.
Bashundhara Kings Chairman Imrul Hassan believes that along with continuity, winning the League title and the inclusion of foreign players in the team helped increase its following and fans. For a long time, Mohammedan Sporting Club and Abahani Limited Dhaka dominated the country’s football. Now another name has been incorporated, Bashundhara Kings. Due to fair play, the spectators returned to the football field. The president of Bashundhara Kings opined that it is a misconception that winning the League title is possible simply by bringing in foreign players through huge investment of money. The main thing is mutual understanding and the performance of the players. We couldn’t play satisfactorily against Mohammedan SC and Bangladesh Police FC. On the field, the team did not comply. I always admit the weaknesses and failures of the team. Keep in mind that the forwards score goals and the defenders help win the title. For a team, goals are essential. Defenders must not stumble in front of foreign players. We encourage ambition in all areas. Bashundhara Kings rose as champion (2022-’23) although they had more games to spare. They came out champion for the fourth time as the best team, not because they had the best players.
From East Pakistan to Bangladesh, it was a 75-year journey from 1948 to 2023. Being newer, the Bashundhara Kings football team sponsored by the country’s largest business conglomerate, Bashundhara Group, has created a new history by winning the League title four times. consecutively In the 75-year history of the eventful Dhaka Football League, no other football team except Bashundhara Kings achieved such rare glory. No other club has been able to bring so many trophies to the club in the shortest possible time. Bashundhara Kings has been able to write its name as one of the best ‘dream teams’ in the history of football in the country. Another topic I want to mention. Dhaka Football League started its journey in 1915. It is a journey of 108 years from 1915 to 2023. No other football team had success like Bashundhara Kings.
Bashundhara Kings President Imrul Hassan informed us that most of the three-year planning has been implemented. It has been possible to create a unique story in the Dhaka Football League. Now, our target is the Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) Football League. Being a newcomer, Mohammedan Sporting Club from Kolkata won the League title five times in a row from 1934 to 1938. Likewise, Bashundhara Kings won the League title four times in a row. Our goal is to win the fifth title in the 2023-24 season. We want to equal the record of Calcutta Mohammedan. And by winning the sixth in 2024-25 we want to create a new record in subcontinental football. Bashundhara Kings love to dream, big. What I want to give importance to is starting academic activities. Construction work on the academic building adjacent to the stadium is progressing. With the completion of the infrastructure, we will start working for age-based teams. By bringing in a foreign coach, long-term training will be provided to teams based on age. Ultimately, there will be no shortage of good local players on the Bashundhara Kings roster. Also, we can sell the players to other clubs. Academic players will mature over time.
The writer is a columnist and former senior vice president of the International Association of Sports Press (AIPS) Asia
Translated by ZAM Khairuzzaman
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