Ten-pin bowling, a sport where the player rolls a ball down a wooden lane to try to topple the 10 pins at the other end, is not well-known in Bangladesh sporting circles and those who recognise it, most probably know it from Western culture.
Here, cricket and football are the bread and butter of the sports fanatics, with other sports such as hockey, table tennis and chess followed to a lesser degree. Even archery, which is gaining public attention recently, was neglected in the country’s sports arena. But there are a few dreamers who take on the challenge of excelling in a sport that has little local significance. Musharraf Hossain Ahmed is one such individual who is the sole representative of Bangladesh in international ten-pin bowling.
One can easily surmise that there is no emphasis on ten-pin bowling from the mere fact that Bangladesh does not even have a federation for the sport. Under such circumstances, Musharraf has been plying his trade for 20 years and while it has been anything but smooth sailing, he has achieved a lot and will now represent Bangladesh in the 55th QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup in Indonesia next month.
It has been a steep battle for Musharraf, without any professional clubs that would allow him to play in national tournaments. When he started, there were facilities in Sports Zone, Fu-Wang Club and Rifles Square where he first developed an interest in the sport. He felt the sport was gaining traction back in 2004 but the facilities closed down.
“Bowling was starting to gain some popularity back in 2004 and there were even tournaments. However, curfews and also the outlets making losses led to them closing down. I took a leave from bowling at that time and as a result I even developed an injury. I am getting better but the injury also led to me underperforming in tournaments,” Musharraf said.
Without any professional outlet to practise his trade, it is ‘a big thing to even have the courage to play in the World Cup’, according to Musharraf.
He had given up on bowling for four-five years but started with renewed spirit in 2014 when Jamuna Future Park was inaugurated. A 22-lane facility at the outlet allowed him to get back into the flow of things. He started mailing institutions outside the country, hoping to get into tournaments, but without much success.
“Back when I started, I was playing quite well and had an average of 180. We had a group of about 10 people but no one had ever thought that we could go outside the country and play.”
He went to Malaysia in 2018 and became a member of the Malaysia Penang Bowling federation and met the vice-president of World Bowling, the governing body of the sport. Musharraf has participated in six international tournaments till date.
“The vice-president was really surprised to learn that Bangladesh had bowlers. He saw me play and assured me that he would help me participate in international tournaments. But problems occurred when I wanted to play the World Cup. They [Penang association] wanted me to represent Malaysia but I didn’t want to do that. Nationality was a factor for the World Cup and they couldn’t support me. I started communicating with the governing body to find a way,” he said.
He finally got in touch with the right people, who informed him that he needed a Government Order (GO) in order to participate.
“For 20 years I have been playing on and off but the environment and facilities here are not supportive. I have even stopped going to Jamuna because the playing surface there is not professional. If you practise here, you cannot play the same way in international tournaments. I am thinking of going there early and practising there but the financial aspect makes it hard,” he reiterated.
Amidst all these challenges facing him for such a long period of time, Musharraf says ‘the sport has now entered my blood stream’, and all he is looking forward to is a sponsor before heading to the World Cup next month on November 13.