Introducing the pioneersShafiur Rahman
Rose Than Par had very little idea what hockey is all about. All she knew was that it is a game in which one must play with a stick and a ball and the team scoring more goals come out as winners.
She was initially hesitant to put her name on the list when a hockey instructor went to her school few months ago. Living in a convent in Bandarban she was eying to become a nun, but yet had a passionate mind for sports.
The passion finally prompted Rose to try her luck as she joined dozens of other girls in the trial for the Women’s Hockey Tournament and much to her surprise she was selected as one of the 20 girls to represent her district in the competition.
But still it was not an easy job for the 14-year old grade-nine student of Don Vosco High School in Bandarban to join the competition.
The priests at the convent where she was living had no idea about Rose joining the trial. But when she was selected for the district team, Rose had no choice other than letting them know.
Their initial response was understandably negative. Though they had no reservation about her taking up the sport, but they could not take the risk of sending such a young girl to Dhaka.
‘I cried a lot, but they were not ready to change their heart. Even my request went in vain,’ Rose told New Age on Thursday.
The priests only decided to release Rose once the deputy commissioner of Bandarban took her responsibility.
Rose made her debut through a competitive tournament on Friday when the first ever UCB Development Cup Women’s Hockey Tournament began at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium with the participation of six teams.
A little more than hundred girls, many of whom have an identical story, are participating in the competition with Bandarban district, Narail district, Dinajpur Municipal High School, Armanitola Anandamayee Girls School, Mirpur Nahar Academy and Kamrunnesa Girls High School from Dhanmondi.
This is a groundbreaking tournament as Bangladesh had never had any hockey competition for women’s in the past and that too came at a time when popularity of hockey in general in Bangladesh is waning.
The BHF officials said they were under pressure from the Asian Hockey Federation to launch women’s hockey and it took a lot of hard work for them to turn it into a reality.
They conducted month-long training camps in four districts -Dhaka, Bandarban, Narail and Dinajpur - and picked girls who previously had no basic knowledge of the game.
Fatema Rani, the daughter of a rickshaw-van puller in Dinajpur, said she did not even watch the game on television before she joined the camp in her school at the insistence of her teacher.
‘I always loved playing different sports in our school and home. But frankly speaking hockey was never on our menu,’ said Fatema with laugh before moving on to the turf at the Bhasani stadium to learn the trade.
BHF officials said that among the selected girls only very few had some ideas about hockey.
Nahida Akter Shoma, who represented Narail in the National Kabaddi Championship, is just one of them.
‘When I was training kabaddi in Narail, I saw boys playing hockey. Sometimes I also joined them. So it’s not a completely new thing for me,’ said Shoma.
‘I also got the support from my family. They always appreciated my performance in kabaddi and now they are waiting to see me do well in hockey as well,’ she added.
In a country where sport is still a taboo for girls in many families, Shoma came as a great exception.
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