Out of around 50 different sports federations and associations in Bangladesh, very few games manage to make it to the World Cup. Although Bangladesh qualified for the 43rd edition of the World Bridge Championship for the first time in history last year, the sport is yet to get a venue of its own to host tournaments, as well as to provide regular training opportunities for its passionate players.
To hold the National Pairs Bridge Championship, which concluded Saturday, Bangladesh Bridge Federation had to arrange the third floor of the National Sports Council for two days. Not only that, the temporary venue has less space than required to host the tournament. There were also continuous noise and interruptions from the surrounding areas. To add to that, electricity often reared its ugly head during the last stage of the final round. As a result, the 28 players couldn’t concentrate on their game at that time.
The National Pairs Bridge Championship was named after the late Fazle Sobhan in 1981, the family of whom has been encouraging and patronising the game of bridge for a long time now. However, Sobhan’s son, Farooq Sobhan, the former foreign secretary, expressed disappointment regarding the venue. “I personally told the president and the general secretary that the venue is disappointing. The tournament was organised at Engineering Institute and different hotels previously. I hope we choose a better location in future,” said Farooq during the closing ceremony Saturday. “We want to widen the support for bridge. We need to bring more young players, especially university students,” explained Farooq. BBF president Mushfiqur Rahman Mohan told Dhaka Tribune, “We are among the world’s top 22 bridge playing countries. We qualified for the World Cup for the first time last year. But what do we get as prize? It’s a shame that we don’t have our own venue yet to ensure training opportunities. We applied to the NSC for a venue for bridge two years ago but to no avail.” Mohan is himself a bridge player for around three decades now. He was also the coach of the national team in their maiden World Cup appearance. He continued, “Countries like Indonesia and India have around one lakh registered bridge players. From sending teams abroad to organising tournaments, the state bears all the expenses. While we had to send our national team to the World Cup arranging our own funds.” Mohan also expressed disappointment after seeing the bridge team not included in Bangladesh’s contingent for the Commonwealth Games, despite receiving repeated invitations. Except shooting, the other five selected disciplines have no expectation in the Commonwealth Games with regards to claiming a medal. Mohan believes their bridge team would have had a chance to win a medal Down Under.
“Bangladesh have every potential in bridge,” said Bangladesh’s World Cup member Asifur Rahman Chowdhury Rajib after winning the National Pairs Bridge title. He added, “You need more space to arrange such big tournament. What we have at the federation is not enough to accommodate more than 20 players. The number of tournaments every year are also not enough, compared to the other top bridge playing countries.”