Veteran striker Rokonuzzman Kanchan's eligibility to play in both the professional and semi-professional league in the same season might raise a few questions about the standard of the Bangladesh Championship League (BCL), the semi-professional football league which has recently become a platform for young players to showcase their talents.
Former national team striker Kanchan was seen captaining Dhaka City FC during their 1-0 loss in the opening match of the seventh edition of the BCL against Farashganj just two months after he had turned up in top-flight football for champions Bashundhara Kings during last December's Independence Cup.
"According to the laws of the FIFA players' status, a player can play in two leagues under an association, subject to terminating his contract with the previous club or playing on loan if the transfer window is open," said Zaber Bin Taher Ansari, the manager of Bangladesh's professional football league.
"Kanchan scrapped his contract with Bashundhara Kings and signed for Dhaka City FC, so he has no barrier to playing in the semi-professional football league after representing Bashundhara Kings in the same season," added Ansari.
"I have decided to play for Dhaka City FC because it is a new team and I want to make them champions. Then I will be a part of history," said Kanchan, who hit 11 goals and led Bashundhara Kings to promotion to the Bangladesh Premier League [BPL] last season.
The country's semi-professional football league was introduced in 2012 -- five years after the top-tier professional football league was introduced -- and turned into a stage for veterans who either failed to get contracts with top-tier clubs or resumed playing after a few years away from the sport.
However, the complexion of the league has changed a lot over the past three seasons and it is now considered a platform that talented youngsters can use to draw attention from top-tier clubs. Names such as Matin Mia,Nabib Newaj Jibon, Rahmat Mia and Sushanta Tripura are among the graduates of the BCL and not only have they been roped in by BPL clubs but they have also made it into the national team.
Victoria Sporting Club have been playing in the BCL since its inaugural edition and they finished in third place last season, narrowly missing out on promotion to the top-tier while champions Bashundhara Kings and runners-up NoFel SC were given tickets to play in the Bangladesh Premier League.
"Yes, there were a few young players in the first two to three editions of the league but the BCL is now full of young players due to the absence of foreign recruits," said Victoria SC sports secretary AKM Nuruzzaman. "Last season nearly 10 players left Victoria SC to join clubs from the BPL."
"Last season we roped in some young players after the completion of the Senior Division Football League and we produced good results to finish third, but this time around we had to gather players from other sources as the lower division leagues were not held," Nuruzzaman continued, adding that they roped in more than 50 per cent of their players from lower leagues each season over the past couple of years as promising recruits would move on to the top-tier league.
Professional Football League manager Ansari also informed that BPL clubs have to pay Tk 25,000-50,000 in compensation if they rope in new players from the non-professional First, Second and Third Division Football League or other district leagues.
"Last season no BPL club had paid any compensation to lower clubs although it did happen two seasons prior," said Ansari. "However, BCL clubs are regularly paying compensation, ranging from Tk 10,000-50,000 as they are required to rope in at least 10 players under professional contracts."