While most people of the country including sports stars are staying indoors to contain the spread of coronavirus, some national hockey players, especially the ones employed by Bangladesh Navy, are mentally gearing up to step out and serve the people in their hour of need.
National hockey players such as Rasel Mahmud Jimmy, Mamunur Rahman Chayan, Farhad Ahmed Shitul, Sarwar Hossain, Asharful Islam, Mainul Islam Koushik, Fazle Hossain Rabbi and Ruman are serving Bangladesh Navy while playing for the national team.
The last time they represented Bangladesh was in the Asian Games in Jakarta in late 2018. Domestically the Navy players last played in the Shaheed Smriti Hockey tournament in February, winning the title by beating Bangladesh Army, which is now playing an important role by assisting local administration in distributing relief materials and keeping people at home.
The duty of Bangladesh Navy's employees under the players' scheme is not like other soldiers or officials, instead they have a basic military training to deal with any emergency situation and they are always ready to serve the people as members of the armed forces.
"We are physically alright but not good mentally because of the coronavirus situation. We are employees of Bangladesh Navy which is our first identity and then we are hockey players. Wearing the Navy uniform, our first job is to ensure the safety of our country. As members of the armed forces, we don't have any vacation. Bangladesh Army is working at district level while Bangladesh Navy is working at remote coastal areas where Army officials can't go. As we are in Dhaka, we are performing administrative tasks," veteran player Mamunur Rahman Chayan told the Daily Star on Sunday.
"We are physically and mentally ready to work with the people if we are asked to work at the ground level. Of course, we will think ourselves lucky to serve the people and save them, especially after representing Bangladesh in hockey. I think serving people is more prestigious than representing the nation at international level as a player," said Chief Petty Officer Chayan, who joined Bangladesh Navy in 2013.
Chayan first represented Bangladesh at international level in 2004 and captained the national team for five to six years since 2010 and he has been a key factor behind many victories, thanks to his deadly penalty-corner conversions. He retired after the 2018 Asian Games, with the last match against South Korea in that tournament also being the last international match that Bangladesh have played.
"The situation has been stable in the last two days [Saturday, Sunday], but if it worsens, we will wholeheartedly obey any order that comes from the high-ups.
"We had basic training on how to deal with emergency situations. All the armed forces officials know they might get infected, but they are putting those thoughts aside to enforce social distancing because the main task of the armed forces is to sacrifice themselves to save the country's people. If we die doing this, we know we will be honoured as shaheed," said the 32-year-old from Faridpur.