The local youths of Bangladesh still love their football; despite the growing success of the national cricket team that attracts a great deal of enthusiastic support.
All across the country there are pick up sides of football almost always giving their all, with not inconsiderable enthusiasm and ball control skills, somewhere, at any time. Remember, youth unemployment, or at least underemployment, is running close to 50%.
There is, also, a somewhat more professional side to the sport, especially in the cities, but between the ‘village field’, and the professionally sponsored sides are the area leagues.
Two evenings ago, the semi final of the area league championship of Cox’s Bazar was fought out with skill and energy by the teams of Cox’s Bazar itself, and the small nearby and fascinating town of Ramu.
At the end of the closely fought game Cox’s Bazar took the match by 2 goals to 1. Probably a fair result, but it did seems a pity they couldn’t both head into the final !
Bangladesh is, of course, a young country, with over 50% of the population under 30 years of age. But one of the great attractions is without doubt the charm, friendliness and commitment, especially to clear and attainable short term objectives, demonstrated at such events. Like local football used to be in the good/bad old days at home, before professionalism, importation of players, not to mention health and safety made such pleasure really rather less involving, or pleasurable.