Wheels finally fall off

Wheels finally fall off 0

Golam Rabbani Choton probably cannot recall the last time he was at home when his players were working out on the astroturf at the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF), a location he has considered to be his home for more than a decade and a half.

Since he delivered the surprise statement on Friday that he would be quitting the BFF at the end of this month, the 53-year-old has been fielding incessant questions from media. He has been doing so ever since he made the announcement.

Although there has not been a formal statement as of yet, the seasoned coach is sure that he will not change his mind about his decision. Although Choton is citing ‘physical tiredness’ as the basis for his decision, it is widely thought, and it is evident from his recent words, that he is weary of not getting the well-deserved credit and reward from the BFF, nor does he love the work climate in the federation. Choton’s remarks have also made it clear that he is frustrated.

Following the announcements of retirement from the women’s football team made by prolific striker Sirat Jahan Swapna and two other players of the SAFF-winning side, Choton made her declaration a few hours after Sirat Jahan Swapna’s announcement. All of these events are connected to one another and are a direct consequence of being cut off from the BFF.

Over the course of the last ten years, Bangladesh’s women’s football team has been instrumental in rehabilitating the country’s tarnished reputation in the male-dominated sport of football. They have been successful in South Asia at the age-group level, bringing home a number of trophies, and they won the SAFF Women’s Championship for the first time in September of last year.

It is due to the tireless efforts of Choton and his deputies, Mahbubur Rahman Litu and Ananya, as well as the efforts of Sabina Khatun, Swapna, Sajeda Khatun, and a great number of others, who have overcome a great number of obstacles and sacrificed spending time with their families in order to achieve plaudits for the nation.

Unfortunately, players are paid the least, with the bulk of the seventy players in the camp receiving a monthly pay that ranges from 5,000 to 10,000 taka, and the greatest of them getting close to 20,000 taka.

In recent years, the players have staged two walkouts from the camp seeking better pay and facilities. Unfortunately for them, their requests have not yet been satisfied, despite the fact that the president of the BFF, Kazi Salahuddin, promised a rise in February of this year.

As a result of plans for a Women’s Super League, some of the top players in the league have been prohibited from taking offers to participate in other South Asian competitions, despite the fact that the Women’s Super League is still a long way from being a reality.

Since the senior team’s victory at SAFF, they have merely been training, with no guarantees that they will participate in competitive football and no indication that they would get a windfall in terms of financial gain.

The pay for the coaches is not particularly high either. Despite the fact that Choton is responsible for managing all of the women’s teams that fall under the BFF, from the squad competing in the lowest age group to the senior team, he is now paid Tk 1,50,000. This sum represents a raise from November of the previous year, when he was paid Tk 1,000,000. The other two assistant coaches split a salary that is far lower than that.

Ironically, the majority of the money collected by the BFF is deposited into another account that belongs to the organization’s technical director. This account apparently contains close to Tk 20 lakh.

The individual in question, Paul Smalley, is responsible for a variety of different tasks; nevertheless, it is his involvement with the women’s teams that is where the most of the issues can be found. The Englishman is a staple on all of the women’s teams, to the point that he sits in the front row of the bench whenever the team is participating in a competitive match.

The members of the coaching staff have frequently voiced their discontent with Smalley’s interference in many elements of the squad, beginning with their training regimen and continuing on to their meal charts and game planning. The players have frequently placed the blame for their inability to play in leagues outside of their country on him.

However, Smalley rules supreme in the BFF’s hallways since he just recently secured an increase in his salary at Tk 5 lakh in order to extend his contract.

Smalley continues to be an unmovable force despite the fact that others, like Swapna, Choton, and many more, have left the edifice of grandeur that they had created over the course of years with their blood, sweat, and tears. And with some of the BFF’s upper brass backing him up, he continues to market women’s football at the detriment of the players in the sport.

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