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Fan frenzy for legends line-up

Published on: 3:45 pm - Monday | July 17, 2017

currentnews.com.bd:

The Shaheed Miraj-Tapan Stadium in Manikganj was packed to the rafters on Saturday. The crowd in attendance were enjoying the final of a football tournament. It was not a star-cast line-up of this generation’s footballers but a constellation of some big names of a glorious past when football was a daily-dose of entertainment for sports lovers in the country.

Out in the middle were Don (who sported the hair-style of Kazi Salahuddin and earned his name as a striker), Alfaz Ahmed (who started his career as a defensive midfielder and left as a fine striker), and Arman Miah (one of the most skilled midfield playmakers the country has produced).

They were actually playing more for fun in a tournament called Dr. Jibon Smriti Veterans Gold Cup Football. They are the last of a golden generation of footballers in a country where the game suffered an unthinkable slide down over the last 15 odd years and is now languishing to survive.

The week-long tournament jointly organised by the District Sports Association and District Football Association has become a popular annual event ever since it was introduced in 2009. This is a platform where the football stars of the 70s to 90s got the opportunity to have a reunion on a football plain they once dictated. It also allowed the fans to be nostalgic and the knowledgeable Manikganj football fans have been thoroughly enjoying it.

Dhaka Sonali Oiti Club won the final defeating their Manikganj counterpart by 4-0 goals with Don scoring twice while Alfaz and Arman shared the other two goals.

But during the last week, the fans enjoyed the sight of so many exciting players of the yesteryears– Nijam, Faisal, Rashedul Hasan Shamim, Milon, Jilani, Zahid, Milon Mollah, Lajuk, Jasim, Swapan, Mukul, Robin, Samrat, Gobinda et al.

Most of the former stars, who are now engaged in different professions, said that they take part in the tournament every year. They also expressed their happiness at seeing the passion of football fans and the respect they still receive.

This year the event also featured a team from Kolkatta. The Kalyani Town Club from Kolkata are taking part in the tournament for a second successive year. East Kolkata football team, which featured some star players from the East Bengal of the 70s and 80s, took part in the festival in 2015.

Khorshed Alam Babul, a midfielder with two hearts like Brazilian Kafu, welcomed the initiative and said that football is still a passion for fans.

“The presence of 15 thousand people in the field proves that people of this country still love football,” said the midfield marshal of the 80s.

Another national award-winning football player Hasanuzzaman Khan Bablu said that this kind of sporting activity will allow young generations to take to the field rather than terrorism or drugs. The Mayor of Manikganj municipality Ramzan Ali and Organizing Secretary of the Bangladesh Jubo League SM Jahid distributed prizes among the winners. The Mayor, Ramzan was also present on the concluding day of the tournament.

The tournament began on July 8 with the State Minister for Health and Family Welfare Zahid Malek Swapan inaugurating the festival that was nostalgia at its best.

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