Obstacles exist so we can overcome: Shopna

Like Bangladesh’s other female footballers, Shopna had to overcome the disapproval of family and society to join the national team

Afrida Jahin
Published : 24 Oct 2022, 08:12 PM
Updated : 24 Oct 2022, 08:12 PM

Rangpur's Sirat Jahan Shopna played as a forward for the Bangladesh women's football team that won the 2022 SAFF Championship.

Like other female footballers in Bangladesh, Shopna had to ignore the disapproval of her family and society as a whole to play the sport and reach the national team.

Hello recently caught up with Shopna to learn the story of her rise from a small village in Rangpur to an important player for our national team.

Hello: How are you?

Shopna: Alhamdulillah, I am fine.

Hello: Did you dream of becoming a footballer since you were young?

Shopna: When I first started playing, I didn’t know I was going to become a professional football player. I didn’t even know that girls play professional football in Bangladesh. I slowly came to learn that they do, and they even go abroad to play big tournaments as well. I first started dreaming about becoming a professional player when I learnt about the national team and how they also go to different countries to play.

Hello: What struggles did you face to become the footballer you are? What influence did your family and society play?

Shopna: People first learnt about us playing when we started at the primary level. People found it hard to believe that girls from rural areas could play football, especially while wearing shorts. A lot of them tried to stop us. My family initially wasn’t very supportive either. But a lot of people were very supportive, including teachers and the president of our school board.

Hello: Is there anybody who was opposed to you playing before but has now congratulated you on the win?

Shopna: I was very surprised when I got to Rangpur. About two hundred people in many vehicles came to welcome me. Amongst them were many who I remembered had been against our football career at the start. To see them cheering for me truly made me happy.

Hello: What are your plans? Where do you want to see yourself in five years?

Shopna: We want to hold the SAFF championship first. Because, if you do something good, people will expect more from you. We do not want to be stuck here. We want to go even further and play outside Asia. I want to see myself in a much better place in five years.

Hello: Did you ever face any pressure from your family to get married as a child? If so, how did you tackle it?

Shopna: My family never really wanted to marry me off. However, I had a few propositions. It’s quite natural in many villages, but I never really had to face a difficult situation over the issue.

Hello: Is there anything you want to tell girls who want to play sports but are being prevented from doing so by their families?

Shopna: I want to send one important message to the girls who face such problems - no obstacle is an absolute roadblock. We are not behind in anything, and we will keep marching forward. There will be obstacles along the way and we will overcome them all, leave them behind and march to a brighter future.

Hello: What initiatives can our government take to encourage girls to play sports?

Shopna: We all know that our prime minister has a love for sports. She always encourages us. I want to personally thank her for funding a mini-stadium in such a rural part of the country. I hope this facility will help develop many female athletes in the future.

Hello: Thank you for your time today.

Shopna: Thank you.

Reporter's Age: 14 District: Rangpur

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher