Tales of triumphs off the field | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 02, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:24 PM, June 02, 2020

Tales of triumphs off the field

They are used to battling it out on the field of play and have often succeed over their opponents by applying skill, technique and intelligence. Tales of the national age-group women's football teams' triumphson the international stage have become common in the country's sports fraternity.

The girls in red and green aced a different kind of challenge as a majority successfully passed the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations despite spending most of the year training and honing their football skills.

There has even been an instance of a couple of women footballers opting not to sit for the SSC or JSC examinations because they travelled abroad to represent Bangladesh in the crucial qualifying round of the AFC age-group tournament. Conversely there is also the example of Krishna Rani Sarker and Nargis Akhtar sat for their Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exam in the day before representing Bangladesh in the Bangamata U-19 Women's Football tournament later the same night.

A dozen girls who have been representing the red and green flag at different age levels as well as in the national team, sat for the SCC examinations with eight players -- Mahfuza Khatun [4.43], Ishrat Jahan Swapna [3.93], Akhi Khatun [3.83], Rehana Khatun [3.75], Rituparna Chakma [3.50], Shamsunnar Sr [3.10], Sajeda Khatun [2.53] and Anai Mogini [2.50] overcoming the hurdles successfully while players like SarabanTahura, Shamsunnar Jr, Rozia Akter and Mahmuda Akter failed.

The girls train intensely round the year to hone their skills and prepare for international tournaments, and thus hardly have the stamina to concentrate on studies in the national camp, but they win the daily battle with fatigue to study regularly at the dormitory in search of a secured future after calling time on their football careers.

"It was really tough to study on days we had running sessions because we could not even sit properly because of weariness, but we kept studying because for a better future. We know we can't play football for life and we have to do something the in future and there is no alternative to studying," Mahfuza told The Daily Star over phone from Tangail.

"Truth be told, I could not study much. I think I could achieve GPA 5 had I studied well. I could not do well in English and mathematics," said Mahfuza, who secured the highest GPA of 4.43, in science, among teammates.

Defender Akhi Khatun could not sit for the SSC examinationslast year due to the U-16 national team's engagement in Myanmar.

"Our sir [coach Golam Rabbani Choton] requested my father to allow me to go with the U-16 national team for important AFC U-16 Qualifying round and my father allowed me, but it really hurt not to be able to sit for the examination," said Akhi. "This year I sat for the examinations under huge pressure because the matches of the Women's Football League were going on and I even played the match the next day after sitting for the exam."

Winger Shamsunnar's result  surprised everybody. "Many girls in our locality could not pass the examination and everyone, including myself, thought that I would not pass because I spent so much time behind football. But I passed and I am surprised," said Shamsunnar, who was however sad for those of her teammates who were unable to pass because she thought it is hard to study and play football concurrently.

National women's coach Golam Rabbani Choton said BFF had played an important role behind the education of the women's players, who studied under English and mathematics tutors three days a week at the BFF dormitory and many other players had also gone to coaching centres for other subjects. The BFF had also played a role in shifting the girls' HSC and JSC centres to Dhaka when there was a clash between exams and international meets.

"We always got reports on players' studies from tutors and took steps accordingly. I even left the dormitory late many times after ensuring their studies, who were also eager to study and play football together," said Choton.

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