The sports scene of the country is dominated by the big two – cricket and football. Occasionally you'll have basketball, handball, and volleyball practices at a select few educational institutes. Badminton gets popular when winter comes around. Other sports don't see much participation than from the dedicated. This is mainly due to most people having little or no knowledge about them and don't know where they can try these sports out. Let's take a look at some of the lesser played sports of this country, their current state, and where you might be able to play them.
The Bangladesh Baseball-Softball Federation (BBSF) started its journey in 2006 but hasn't gotten the grounds running yet. Currently, they are working to expand this sport to district levels and are organising various local tournaments. They also host the National Baseball Tournament for both men and women where district based teams and teams from the defence forces participate. The fifth instalment of this tournament took place in September this year. Both the men's and women's division were won by Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
Baseball doesn't have any dedicated fields or stadiums as of yet, and most tournaments are arranged in the fields of existing football or cricket clubs. The BBSF has launched campaigns in multiple districts to train young enthusiasts, from which players will be drafted for the national training camps in Dhaka. So if you're interested, you should follow BBSF's official website and Facebook page to keep track of their upcoming events and training camps. Additionally, you have to the opportunity to get started right now by contacting BBSF through their phone number. They are highly co-operative and with their help, you can arrange or join practice sessions at Paltan Maidan. There are no fees for joining but you will need to manage your own equipment.
This is a contact sport, based on running with the ball in hand. Usually, the game is between two teams of 15 players each, using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field with H-shaped goalposts on each end. We more or less know of the sport and have an idea about it thanks to its striking similarity with American football. Rugby is popular worldwide, but sees little exposure in Bangladesh.
Rugby was first brought in by the British during their time of rule in the sub-continent. It saw some play but never got popular due to the hot climate of this region. After independence, there pretty much wasn't any presence of rugby whatsoever. In 2007, things somewhat kicked off with a group of Japanese coaches starting a youth programme and setting up U-12 camps at various schools in the capital.
Right now, your options to play rugby are limited. Since this sport requires a specialised field, it's not like you can grab a ball, get a few friends, and have a game. The Bangladesh Rugby Federation Union (BFRU) is attempting to popularise it by organising training camps and tournaments, and your best bet is to get wind of one of these programmes. If you're enthusiastic enough, you can contact the BFRU at Bangabandhu National Stadium, 1st Floor, Room 16, and make arrangements for practice sessions.
Tennis has a stronger history compared to the other sports mentioned. Bangladesh Tennis Federation (BTF) was formed way back in 1972 and since then, has undertaken various initiatives to popularise this sport in Bangladesh. In 1977, the National Tennis Complex was established and in 1985, BTF acquired membership of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) of London.
Tennis is widely played in various clubs and organisations, both recreationally and competitively. Most tennis courts of high-end clubs aren't accessible for the general public. They are “members only” and you have to pay a hefty amount to rent the courts. However, the BTF located at Ramna is an excellent place to start, as you only need to pay 500 Taka per month. They also provide proper training and if you get good enough, you can have the opportunity to participate in regional competitions. Aside from the Federation, other places that provide such facilities include the Elite Tennis Academy Bangladesh located in New Elephant Road, and Gulshan Youth Club.
Most of you are probably hyped up about this sport, or at least familiar with it thanks to its viral news content. MMA, short for “mixed martial arts” is a combat sport with a certain set of rules. It is much more flexible than karate, judo or boxing as those impose certain limitations to promote only one style of fighting. As the name suggests, MMA athletes typically use a wide range of martial arts and fighting styles, such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, muay thai, grappling etc. Bangladesh Mixed Martial Arts Association (BMMAA) is the governing body for national level competitions and hosts tournaments such as Bangladesh MMA League and XFC Contender Series.
While you have to rely on the national federations mostly for the other sports, MMA is actually more accessible to the general public and has multiple gyms across Dhaka. You just need to get in touch with them, sign up, provide the fees and then join the gruelling training sessions. If you decide to take MMA seriously, you can also enter the ring professionally through these gyms as most of them are affiliated with BMMAA.
Some prominent gyms include HORDE MMA and Martial Arts Academy, Invictus MMA and BJJ, Warriors Academy of MMA, Xtreme MMA, BJJ Bangladesh, and a few others. You can get in touch with them through their respective Facebook pages.
Mushfiqur Rahman Shanto is a lost and confused soul going through his early twenties' crisis. Send him life advice at firstname.lastname@example.org