Although athletes from Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protisthan (BKSP) have dominated the domestic circuit in most disciplines, only a handful have delivered expected performances at the international level.
But it was not so long ago that BSKP's athletes were bringing laurels for Bangladesh. Commonwealth Games gold medalist Asif Hossain Khan, South Asia's fastest man Bimal Chandra Tarafder, footballer Hasan Al Mamun and cricketer Shakib Al Hasan are all products of the country's lone sporting institution.
More recently, however, it has been struggling to produce athletes that are up to those standards and has consequently come in for a bit of criticism in the sporting fraternity.
With a hope of closing the gap of athletes' standard of international and domestic level, BKSP recently appointed four foreign coaches for cricket, football, hockey and archery. Another good initiative came from steps towards using those coaches for the development of local coaches.
"We usually bring foreign coaches to develop athletes because we think they will develop a bit better under them. We are also thinking whether those foreign coaches can be used in developing local coaches at the institution," Brigadier General Md Rashidul Hasan, BKSP's Director General, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Irish football coach Ray Power, Malaysian hockey coach Iman Gobinathan Krishnamurthy and South Korean archery coach Lee Hang Ho have already joined while a cricket coach from New Zealand is expected to further bolster the ranks. Hasan also informed that another Portuguese football coach, who is now in Dhaka, would soon join BKSP as part-time coach.
Explaining the spate of appointments, Hasan said: "We have been in limbo in sports. We are 186th in the FIFA Rankings. BKSP is a place where athletes grow up, but they grow up lacking technique and then fail to deliver expected performances at the top level. I want to close those gaps by appointing European coaches for younger students. If they can adopt the European style from a tender age, then the standard of football will certainly improve in future."
Former BKSP student and national footballer Firoz Mahmud Titu hailed the initiative to appoint foreign coaches and urged the concerned authorities to use the coaches properly and shielding them from politics inside BKSP.
"I must appreciate the initiative of appointing the foreign coaches," Titu said. "Students are bored with the monotonous training under local coaches. It is the right time to make changes to training schedules and it is possible by including foreign coaches."
However, Titu also urged that coaches be used properly instead of what he saw during his time there, when he says they would only develop less-gifted students.
The BKSP DG ensured that foreign coaches would be used in the best possible way during their one-year tenure.
"Those coaches will first look after the High Performance units, comprising U-15, U-17 and U-18 athletes. Then other students will get an opportunity to train under them," Hasan said, adding that the youth and sports ministry was positive about increasing funding for foreign coaches.