Bangladesh To Go Grassroots In '09

Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) is looking to have a busy 2009 in a bid to keep football running round the year.

Not only tournaments, the football's governing body is eyeing to introduce a development project for ten-year olds among other youth programmes.

According to the Dailystar, BFF's newly appointed technical director Shahidur Rahman Shantoo, the former national goalkeeper who joined the federation this month, has already submitted a programme that will see launching leagues for under- 10, 12, 14 and 16 players. Shantoo admitted that he has prepared a programme.

"Yes, I have submitted it to the development committee. But I will only talk about it when the BFF finalises this," said Shantoo, who learned his trade in coaching at youth level in the USA and also coached Bangladesh's 2004 SAF Games football squad.

president Kazi Salahuddin, who played along side Shantoo in the national team, said that the programme is set to be launched by February 2009. "I don't want to say much about this now but if we can't start it by the end of January, it will surely get underway in February," Salahuddin told The Daily Star.

"We have held back some announcements for the general election but our plan is that football should be run for 12 months next year," said the BFF chief. He assured that the Tk 4-crore budget would not be a problem. "We have been negotiating with a few and hope that the everything would be finalised early in January."

Nokia has long been wanted to get involved in youth development programmes and it was confirmed that the leading cellular phone manufacturers, who twice sponsored the national football team, is one of the parties.

The programme, meanwhile, includes football leagues at all 64 districts from under- 10 to 16 levels, which seems to be a very ambitious plan. It was learned that the technical director has given more emphasis on competitive football than training. If the clubs cannot be involved, the technical directors will consider involving teams of different localities as well as schools.

The one challenge the BFF will face to make this success is the inactivity of the divisional and district FAs (football association) because without their involvement, it would be impossible to run the programme. The FAs have yet to get assistance from the district sports associations despite many meetings between the BFF and the government. As a result, the district football leagues have yet to see light of day.

The BFF also plans to use 1.10 lakh dollars (US) from the FIFA fund for youth development programmes. The finance committee of the federation has submitted its budget to the FIFA, which gives a fund of 2.5 lakh dollars annually to BFF.

The BFF will need one-lakh dollars to run its office and the rest 40,000 dollars will go to women's football.The federation also looks forward to solve the problem of extra budget for the synthetic turf to be built under FIFA's 'Goal project' in early January next year. The FIFA budget for the turf at the ground adjacent to the BFF Bhaban is four lakh dollars but the cost has increased by 70,000 dollars.

FIFA development officer and AFC vice-president Manilal Fernando is due to arrive in Dhaka on January 7 to discuss the issue. The BFF is contemplating to find sponsors to finish the task, providing it gets FIFA's permission.