‘Kings want to bring back golden days of football’
Bashundhara Kings are the third Bangladeshi club after Dhaka Abahani Limited and Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra Limited which have secured country’s all three top tier domestic titles namely Federation Cup, Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and Independence Cup. Now, the top-flight outfit are eyeing to make a mark in the international arena especially in Asian football.
Ahmed Shaaek, club’s media and marketing manager, said their aim is to bring back glorious days of Bangladesh football. The young football organiser told daily sun about the club’s visions and responsibilities for developing the country’s football. Here are the excerpts of the conversations:
daily sun: Bashundhara Kings have become the new powerhouse in the country’s football. What is the main goal of your side?
Ahmed Shaaek: To bring back the old glorious days of our football, as simple as that. We are all well-informed about the past and present situation of Bangladesh football. I think we have been going down after 1990. Most of our organisers don’t possess the knowledge to manage modern-day football at this moment.
We as a club want to bring back those glory days when the stadium was filled with supporters and healthy debate raged in every corner. The road ahead is hard but not impossible and we are confident that we will reach our goal sooner or later.
daily sun: Why did you feel that most of our organisers doesn’t possess proper knowledge to manage modern-day football?
Ahmed Shaaek: Top management of Bangladesh footballing arena still think from 1970-80s perspective, whereas world football took a big shift from 1990. Unless we change the thinking process, it’s hard to change the shape of football. The top management of Kings understands the characteristics of modern football. I was given the responsibility to bring this practice of professionalism in Kings in the modern football world perspective.
High-quality foreign players, strong fan base make us different from others. We have a strong presence in social media. We are also working on a website with extensive records where fans can easily find information within clicks.
daily sun: Does the club has any major plans regarding youth and women’s football?
Ahmed Shaaek: FIFA is putting emphasis on the development of women football and we want to walk on that road too. We are the only professional football club of Bangladesh to participate in the women’s League this year and we will continue this every single year if BFF continues the league.
Also, we strictly maintain the AFC Club Licensing regulations and Youth Development is a major part of it. We arranged an open trial and under-aged tournaments in 2018. Based on that, now we have two sets of youth teams in U-15 and U-18. Last year, we took part in the BFF U-18 Football Tournament.
We are going to construct a dedicated football academy by the name of Bashundhara Kings. This academy will be the pipeline of the main team.
daily sun: Is it the main reason behind the construction of Bashundhara Sports Complex?
Ahmed Shaaek: The modern-day football is a pure business model where if you know how each string works, you can earn millions and billions out of it. Bashundhara Group understands the business potential of sports. To establish this, first and foremost you need to have the proper infrastructure. The sports complex will help you build that as well as improving your chances to be the market leader.
The centre of attraction in this sports complex will be the Stadium for Bashundhara Kings. It will be a European style football. Unfortunately, there is no proper football stadium in Bangladesh, all of the cricket stadiums which are converted into a football stadium; so watching a match in Kings stadium will be like a new source of entertainment for the people.
daily sun: You were the first person from Asia to be involved in UEFA Academy. How exciting was that experience?
Ahmed Shaaek: UEFA Academy offer various courses but all for the European nationals. But in 2019 for their most popular course UEFA Certificate of Football Management (UEFA CFM), they opened the doors for applicants worldwide. I applied and got into that. Only 27 participants from 21 countries got into the program and Bangladesh is one of them.
I got to learn modern-day football management from a 360-degree perspective. The journey started with the organisation of world football, then there was strategic and operation management in football with marketing, media, event management and lastly how to manage a stadium. The course included seminars in different locations such as UEFA Headquarters, Wembley Stadium and the Olympic Stadium in London.
daily sun: How is it working as the Media Manager of Bashundhara Kings?
Ahmed Shaaek: The position was given to me because as a club we must send few definite positions to AFC for successful club licensing. But my duties and responsibilities do not limit only to the position. I work with the president and team manager to set up plans for the club, working as the AFC club licensing manager and any communication with AFC. For any kind of international player signing you need to go through the official FIFA TMS system, working as the FIFA TMS manager from the club. Then dealing with all sorts of marketing ideas, promotions, media management and matchday management etc. The list goes on and on but love every bit of it.
daily sun: What attracted you the most to this project?
Ahmed Shaaek: To tell you the truth, the reason is our President (Bashundhara Kings President Imrul Hassan). I am trying to work for football in Bangladesh for the last 8-9 years but was disheartened. But the knowledge and vision of our President to change the landscape of Bangladesh football attracted me to work for the club.