Bangladesh celebrates SAFF victory with open-top bus parade for champions

Fans line up along the road from Shahjalal International Airport to Bangladesh Football Federation in Motijheel to greet the champions

Published : 21 Sept 2022, 07:06 PM
Updated : 21 Sept 2022, 07:06 PM

The Bangladesh women's football team have returned home to a raucous reception after clinching their maiden SAFF Championship title in Nepal.

Fans in their thousands packed out the road from Shahjalal International Airport to Bangladesh Football Federation in Motijheel to greet the champions upon their arrival in Dhaka on Wednesday afternoon.

The winners took the victory ride on an open-top double-decker bus, waving to the fans, flying the national flag, throwing flowers and flashing victory signs during the parade.

Many organisations brought banners to make their presence known to the heroes. Some fans wore costumes to celebrate the victory. Many got on rooftops to greet the champions. People started shouting slogans whenever the bus came into view.

One of the fans, Yusuf, brought his 3-year-old son Siam from Badda to Banani to be part of the celebrations of the historic win. “I feel great!” said Yusuf, who gave a single name.

Students of Government Titumir College in Mohakhali waited for a long time. “We feel so excited! The footballers include members of indegenous groups. It is a matter of pride to me personally,” said Kingking Marma, one of the students.

“It feels different to win a trophy after 2003. Women’s football will progress a lot after this victory, but still female footballers do not get equal pay and perks like their male counterparts, which is a sad thing,” said Nusrat Jahan Swarna, a candidate for the Higher Secondary Certificate from Shaheed Bir Uttom Lt Anwar Girls College.

Rakib Hossain, a student of BAF Shaheen College, said: “They deserve this bus ride for the trophy they’ve earned us. We want the government to pay more attention to the women’s football team so that they can play well.”

Shoaib Ali, a cricket fan, said he always watched matches of the national men’s cricket team. “But I won’t miss women’s matches from now on. Their performance was unbelievable.”

“If the female footballers get equal facilities as the male cricketers, they will soon play in the World Cup.”

The bus arrived at BFF in Motijheel around 7pm via Mohakhali, Bijoy Sarani, Tejgaon, Mouchak, Kakrail and Arambagh.

Dhaka University student Arka Saha, who was waiting there to see the footballers, said: “We're excited. It's great. Our female footballers have excelled in South Asia when some people in Bangladesh are trying to keep girls confined to their homes and make them wear certain clothes. When the footballers conquer the world, that'll be a fitting response to that type of people.”

Ayrunnahar Tonoya, who is getting admitted to Asha University, said she stood at Fakirapool for two and a half years to see the footballers. “Their achievement will encourage girls to play the game.”

Taslim Rima brought flowers to greet the champions. “I’m an athlete. Seeing them will lift my spirits. Their victory has already inspired me.”

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher