Although there was a chance for an exciting match between two football academies in Dhaka, the BFF (U-15) Academy Championship inaugural match at Birshreshtha Shaheed Mostafa Kamal Stadium yesterday did not live up to the hype.
On a springy artificial turf at Kamalapur, Gopalganj Football Academy from Dhanmondi, however, produced an exciting conclusion as they overcame Milon Football Academy from Khilkhet with a last-minute strike.
It was a collision of opposing styles, with Gopalganj FA showcasing excellent individual play and their opponents showcasing more teamwork in terms of possession management.
In the second game played at the same location between Karondika Inclusive Football Academy and Tiger Kids Football Academy, the former treated the crowd to a spectacular free kick that he struck on the edge of the box.
Since national age-group football, national school football, and professional clubs’ youth development programs have all been discontinued, the BFF Academy Championship, which has 168 BFF-accredited football academies nationwide, may provide about 3700 aspiring football players with a new opportunity to improve their skills under qualified coaches.
The local football governing body has created a space for young footballers in the FIFA Talent Development Scheme, worth BDT one crore, despite the fact that many participating football academies can only organize training without competing in tournaments to assess players’ growth curves.
Notwithstanding a number of challenges, including limited funding, a dearth of practice fields and uniforms, and other factors, these academies are managed by people who have no personal stake in the sport and are merely passionate about it.
“I have always liked football, but because there aren’t many opportunities in Khilkhet, I was unable to pursue my passion of playing the game. For this reason, I wanted to establish a football academy for the kids in our neighborhood so they could compete at the highest level,” Milon FA President Shafiqul Islam Milon stated to The Daily Star yesterday.
“It’d be better to receive some financial help because I’ve to bear some Tk 60-80 thousand from my own pocket despite the academy earning nearly Tk 40,000 per month from the students,” he stated.
The coach of Gopalganj FA and a former national full-back, Mahmudul Hasan, had a similar opinion. The 40 kids at the AFC B-licence coach’s academy, which he has been managing for the past six years, requested that BFF host a tournament of this kind every three to four months.
Imran Mridha Rubel, the coach of Tiger Kids FA, is instructing 100 children in the Khilgaon area despite not yet having a coaching license. His lessons come from the coaching he received from Wazed Gazi, Syed Jilani, Mahbubur Rahman Roxy, Kamal Babu, and Abu Faisal during his brief playing career.
Despite having an AFC C license, Milon FA coach Muhammad Asadul Islam feels that all academies need licensed teachers in order to produce players of high caliber from the bottom up.
“I told the lads to demonstrate what they had learnt from me, so it doesn’t matter if we win or lose. Asadul declared, “I’m happy with how they played one-two touch football.”
“Though there is a lack of proper football environment including the availability of ground, the main problem is that we need good quality coaches who can teach the footballers all basic techniques.”