The 2nd Indo-Bangladesh Bangla Games will kick off today with the Bengali speaking neighbours of Bangladesh and India competing for glory in nine sport disciplines.
Chief Adviser Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed will inaugurate the five-day meet at 3.30pm at the Bangabandhu National Stadium amid fanfare.
Bangladesh Television and ATN Bangla will telecast the gala opening ceremony live.
The competition of the Games of Friendship, however, will begin tomorrow in Dhaka and its adjacent districts.
A total of 67 gold medals will be at stake in athletics, swimming, shooting, football (men’s and women’s), volleyball, kabaddi, basketball, kho kho and cricket — which makes its debut in the game sin the form of Twenty20 — over 400 athletes from the two contingents.
Bangladesh had won 30 gold medals against West Bengal’s 38 in the first version of the Games in Kolkata two years back but this time, the hosts are eyeing 40 gold medals in familiar conditions.
DOWN MEMORY LANE
The visiting team, which received warm welcomes on way to the capital from Benapole border, arrived in Dhaka on Wednesday night and spent a memorable day yesterday.
It was part of the plan that the athletes from the other side of the border will observe ‘Amar Ekushey’ and the International Mother Language Day. The visitors were overwhelmed by the way Bangladeshis pay tribute to the language martyrs and had an absorbing experience after placing floral wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar last morning.
“I would have never understood the passion that the people of Bangladesh show on ‘Ekushey February’. The discipline they show is also exemplary,” said West Bengal contingent’s Chef-de-Mission Zulfiqar Hassan, who led the team’s ‘Prabhat Ferry’.
“We are grateful to the Bangladesh Olympic Association (BOA) for organising this trip and give us a chance to get involved,” said Bengal Olympic Association’s secretary general Kamolesh Chatterjee.
The athletes on the other hand, walked down memory lane, especially those whose ancestors belonged to this part of Bengal.
Jahar Das, whose father came from Tangail and mother from Jamalpur, told he would never forget the visit to the Shaheed Minar.
Tapan Ganguly felt he was at home after passing through Madaripur, the land of his forefathers, on way to Dhaka.
Rahmatullah, who finished third in men’s 100m in India’s National Athletics, has travelled a lot but felt he belonged to this place. “The way the people greeted us from the street side, I was enthralled,” said the sprinter.
The local swimmers winning gold will get Tk 5,000 as reward, announced Bangladesh Swimming Federation’s vice-president Mahbubur Rahman Shahin. The silver medallists will get Tk 3,000 and a bronze winner Tk 2,000.
The gallery tickets for the opening ceremony will cost Tk 20 each. The spectators will not only be able to enjoy paratrooper landing and displays during a marathon opening ceremony but also a concert by leading band singer Ayub Bachchu, who also performs the Games theme song. The entire gate money will be donated to the cyclone Sidr victims.
Athletics: Feb 23, 24 (Army Stadium, Dhaka)
Swimming: Feb 23-25 (Mirpur)
Shooting: Feb 23-25 (BKSP)
Volleyball: Feb 23-25 (Dhaka, Gazipur)
Kabaddi: Feb 23-25 (Dhaka)
Cricket: Feb 23, 24, 25 (Bogra, Rajshahi, Fatullah)
Kho kho: Feb 23-25 (Dhaka)
Men’s football: Feb 23-25 (Dhaka, Narshingdi)
Women’s football: Feb 23-25 (Narshingdi, Narayanganj, Dhaka)
Basketball: Feb 23-25 (Mirpur, BKSP)