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Old March 21, 2003, 01:05 AM
zakir zakir is offline
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Default History, Club Culture, and National League-1

This is basically a followup of Sam's article and I am afraid that it may be a little long. Before making my points, let me review briefly the history (simplified) of the modern Bengali middle class.

Bengali middle class was essentially started with the creation of Calcutta University during late 18th century. In literature this class is known as "Bhoddorlok Class" and the popular nick name of this class is GHOTI. During that time they established a club named Mohon Bagan Club. Also at the same time the Zamindars (Land Lords) and the rich people of East Bengal (Present day Bangladesh) started to buy homes in Calcutta. They also started sending their sons to Calcutta for College and University education. They were rich and used to spend more money than the Ghotis. The Ghotis didn't like that . They started to call these people from East Bangal as BAANGAAL in a derogatory way. Thus a sweet rivalry started. Eventually the East Bengalis in Calcutta established their own club named East Bengal Club. Slowly this rivalry moved in the soccer field and the great East Bengal-Mohon Bagan rivalry was born.

Now during that time the conditions of the Muslim Bengalis were not very good. They were lagging in every sphere of life. Muslim middle class members were non-Bengalis (nawab of Dhaka, etc). The nucleusof Benglai Muslim middle-class was actually created by Mohd. Nasiruddin by starting to publish the magazine Sowgat with poet Nazrul as the editor. Nazruls popularity was soaring that time. The Bengali Muslims were desperately looking for something to be proud of. In addition to Nazrul, they found pride in Abbasuddin's songs and in late thirties they found the fine brand of football played by Calcutta Mohammedan Sporting Club. They started to support the team with great emotion and pride. Calcutta Mohammedan became champion for eight years in a row to create a broad base of supporters. These Big three created a unique club based soccer culture among the Bengalis The Bengalis became soccer crazy nation and Calcutta became the center of Indian Soccer.

After 1947, this trend continued in the erstwhile East Pakistan and Dhaka quickly became the center of Pakistan football and we have seen Mohammedan-Victoria, Mohammedan-Wandarers, Mohammedan-EPIDC (later BJMC) rivalry. After independence we have seen the creation of great Abahani-Mohammedan rivalry. During our time (late 70's and early 80's) this was a part of our life. Of course there was a change. This rivalry was expanded in the other fields of sports like cricket and hockey. In fact this rivalry is one of the factors of Cricket becoming a popular game.

Now let's talk about Bengali's history a little bit more. We all know that before British, Bengal was ruled from Dhaka and then from Murshidabad. British created the the modern administrative system of Bengal (Bangladesh and West Bengal) with the provincial govt. in Calcutta and the local govt. in divisions, districts, and sub-divisions. Among these, the DISTRICTS were the nerve center of the cultural and economic life of the Bengalis. With time people started to identify themselves with his/her home districts. This was not true for divisions or sub-divisions. Even now when people are asked about their bari or desh (where are they from), the Bangladeshis usually mention the name of their home didtricts (or greater districts). In Bangladesh we always see people are very proud of their home districts (now greater districts).

Now based on the review of our history I want make the following points.

1) Since club culture is soo deep rooted in our life, we should not destroy that. Let Dhaka Premier League remain as our main league for the limited over cricket. Even though they are Dhaka based clubs, we know that they have supporters all over the country. We don't need to include the limited over matches in the National League. Then Dhaka league will not remain the main limited over tournament and thus will loose it's glamour.

2) National League should focus on the longer version of the game ONLY. The key question is how to make it attractive involving the teams with enthusiastic supporter base. In my opinion (based on our culture), if we have one team from each greater districts, we will have a crowd pulling first-class tournament. We can remember that in erswhile East Pakistan Inter-District tournament was the most popular one after Dhaka league. There was Barisal-Comilla rivalry for some time.

We have 17 greater districts (considering Tangail in Mymensing and Patuakhali in Barisal). As Sam pointed out that too many teams may be a problem. We need to do some brainstorming here to devise a Nation League system involving 17 teams. (India's Rangi trophy has about 20 teams).

3) We also need a regular first-class tournamnet like last Challange Cup, where National team (BCB XI), A team and the Development squad will play. We can make it somewhat like Busta Cup by inviting a foreign team. Any A team, state team from India, or Provincial team from Pakistan will make it attractive and useful.
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Old March 23, 2003, 01:10 AM
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Ehsan Ehsan is offline
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Well man its really too long but you did a good job to put it all together
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Old March 24, 2003, 01:08 AM
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Nasif Nasif is offline
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Send this to dailystar newspaper. Good article.
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Old March 24, 2003, 05:03 PM
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Orpheus Orpheus is offline
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You seem to have a very good knowledge of the past history... these history are really interesting...atleast to me!!

You posted the message at a wrong time when Sham took off. ....I would really like to see his reply on this.....

However, it was kind of hard for me to understand as I am not familiar with any of the names... even after reading it twice and you used some of the names interchangeably - which confused me a lot.

Things which I had hard time understanding:
These Big three created a unique club based soccer culture among the Bengalis
My understanding: They are Ghoti's Mohon Bagan, East Bengal and the Middle class muslim - Mohammedan. Just wondering - are those Ghotis HIndus? as they too were middle class?

So basically it's back to Hindu-Muslim and [Rich - Poor who think they are rich] rival.

Anyways, zakir, you should really write more on this board..... not once in a purple moon....you are depriving us from knowledge here (hopefully they are all correct).. Don't be so selfish!

Now back to your points: 1 & 2
Since club culture is soo deep rooted in our life, we should not destroy that.
My understanding so far is that...it is already destroyed. Does anyone really care about this club thing anymore? Besides we don't have to preserve this root (rivalry) through cricket as it did originate in football. So we can safely take out cricket without destroying the roots. I don't think taking away cricket from club to district base will hurt anyone instead it will be much better. Sham and Shubho already made those points I believe...

Longer version/shorter version - If you want to cause "rivalry" between districts, ONLY 4 days cricket will not do it as it will be lengthy and boring. People will not be interested in it. I don't think anyone shows up at stadium even if the admission is free to 4/5 days cricket. So In order to actually have rivalry going, we really need that ONE day cricket - some excitement.

I guess you shouldn't be too concerned about Dhaka League.... or I should rather say history being destroyed. I believe that was your main concern... was it?

Please don't make fun of me if I sound foolish ......


[Edited on 25-3-2003 by Orpheus]
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Old March 27, 2003, 12:32 AM
zakir zakir is offline
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Thanks Orpheus for your kind words.

About your first comment:

Well as I mentioned, In Bengal that time the number of middle-class BENGALI Muslims were almost zero. Bengali Muslims were far behind economically and also in education. Middle class Muslims were mostly NON-BENGALI. In other words middle-class Bengali (Ghotis or Bangaals) were mostly Hindu. Though the clubs were established by the middle-class, their popularity did propagate among the mass. In general Hindu-Muslim relation was always good in Bengal. It was East Bengal - Mohon Bagan rivalry (not Mohon Bagan -Mohammedan or East Bengal - Mohammedan). I assume that during Mohon Bagan- East Bengal game, all East Bengalis (Hindus and Muslims) used to support East Bengal. Let me give you a parallel example. In 30's growing Bengali Muslim middle class were very proud of Nazrul. That doesn't mean that they were not proud of or dislike Rabindranath.

Now about your 2nd comment:

I think you made some good points and I agree with you in general. Actually I was trying to show that club based sports in the past did paly a significant role in producing players and entertaining urban people. So probably we should continue this. But that doesn't mean that we have to continue even if we get a better format, just for the history.

I agree with you that inter-district 4-day match may not be very exiting as one day. In that case,

1) We can have a National Limited over League with 17 District teams.

2) Longer version National League with 6 divisional teams. We can also invite one or two foreign teams like Busta Cup.

3) Continue limited over Dhaka League, where the National players will be allowed to play at some phase (super league.
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Old March 27, 2003, 05:27 PM
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First of all, thank you Zakir, for writing your original article. It was wonderful. We will expect more from you as we now know you have the knowledge of our rich history and culture.

Your proposal was excellent. Even now, we ask other Bangladeshis - "Where are you from"? Meaning - "which greater district are you from?" This can be the basis of a real touranament. I also agree with longer version matches, as we have to get ready for test matches. We need players with stamina combined patience in addition to skills and technique.

WE HAVE TO START PLAYING TEST MATCHES. Otherwise we will lose to other countries, as games will be over in 2 or 3 days. We have to make a start right now in the way you proposed.

I believe if these matches are held in one of the district headquarters, for example if a match between Noakhali and Sylhet is being played, the match should be scheduled in either Noakhali or Sylhet. I guess these matches will also attract a lot of spectators (if not too many), as people in the district headquarters don't have chance to see many big matches. Although one day matches would attract more spectators, I would rather prefer the longer version matches. As a matter of fact, a one day match can also follow a 4 day match!!!

Thanks again.
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Old March 27, 2003, 09:01 PM
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Piranha Piranha is offline
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Zakir, I think that was an excellent post. Keep up the good work!

Here is what I think of your proposal.
1) I think it is a very good idea to have historic rivalry between teams. This is good for cricket and also keeps financial stability.
However, this has problems, because of the rivalry organizers and advertisers become very keen to promote a handful of teams (maybe just 2 or 3)
and ignore most of the rest. Not enought cricket talent can come out a system like this.

2)Having a new system does not mean that rivalry will die. Over time new rivalries can be built and interest generated.
It is crucial that the sports administration work hard to keep the interest in games. If they out enough effort and spend enough money,
it is possible to create genuine lasting interest.

3) Having clubs for one-dayers and national league for 4 dayers sounds like a good plan, but I think it will be diffcult to manage. I would rather see
national league teams play both O-Day and 4-Day.

[Edited on 28-3-2003 by Piranha]
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