7 October, Kathmandu. Bangladesh captain Sabina Khatoon’s confidence in the press conference before the start of the SAIF Women’s Championship was unmatched.
He left Dhaka to win the title.
Bangladesh became the new champions of South Asia after beating the home team in the final after being undefeated in the tournament for two weeks.
This is a special achievement for Bangladesh football, it came as a double delight for the 28-year-old captain Sabina. She also became the tournament’s top scorer (8 goals) and the best player.
Under his captaincy, Bangladesh reached the final in the fourth edition of 2016. He was disappointed after losing to India. After 6 years he feels that his career has been worthwhile.
Bangladesh is a Muslim majority country. Here women are less allowed to do extra work outside the home than men. 15 years ago, he struggled within his family to take off the burqa and wear the jersey and leave the house to play football. Sabina said that the parents and neighbours, who had brought up the idea that their daughter should not be allowed to leave the house, were overjoyed when Saif returned home with the championship trophy.
Sabina, who started playing football at the age of 12, had the image of a tomboy from an early age. She is the youngest of five sisters. Although her parents did not allow her to play for fear of the neighbors and the society, she became a player because of her sister’s insistence.
‘Does your daughter play football for dad on the toll? he used to say. However, my sister answered everyone and sent me to play football,’ she said. I didn’t like to walk like girls at all. Maybe because you have to be bold in a game of football!’
The biggest reason for his childish nature is his elder sister. Didi herself used to dress like boys. Although no one in the family could say anything, but in the society they used to hear allegations of being a girl and playing with boys. He took his step forward in sports breaking all kinds of religious and cultural bonds.
His Journey to the National Team
Sabina was born in the Satkhira district of Bangladesh. It is located near Kolkata, India. Growing up in this area influenced by the football culture of West Bengal, Sabina has now become the superstar of the country. Before becoming a footballer, he represented his district team and went to the capital, Dhaka, to play volleyball.
At the age of 14, in 2008, after joining the district level football team, he quit volleyball. When the national team was not formed in Bangladesh. She was a part of the district national competition and the age group national team. At the first SAFF Championships in 2010, he made his senior team debut at the age of 16.
Coach Mohammad Akwar Ali is the inspiration of Sabina’s life at the beginning of her career. Which inspired Sabina’s parents to send their daughter to play. ‘He helped me a lot. That’s why I’ve come here,’ says Sabina, remembering her first coach, Ali, ‘he softened my parents somewhat.’
Known as the goal machine in Bangladesh’s domestic football, Sabina has scored nearly 300 goals so far. She has been playing in the National Women’s Championship since 2009. From 2009 to 2015/16 season, she played in the National Women’s Football Championship. In the 2015/16 season, she scored 47 goals in 8 matches and became the top scorer.
She became the top scorer in Bangladesh Women’s Super League in 2011 with 27 goals in 13 matches. He has scored 293 goals in 86 matches in all domestic competitions.
She also played in the Indian Women’s League once in 2018. In which she was associated with Setu FC. She became Setu’s top scorer with 6 goals in 7 matches.
He made his debut for Bangladesh in the national team at the 11th South Asian Games (SAG 2010). Women’s football was included in the greens for the first time. In the same year, he played 4 matches for the team and scored 3 goals in the SAFF Championship at home. Since then, he has scored 32 goals in 48 matches for the SAFF and the national team till the South Asian Games.
Sabina, who has been seen as the captain of the senior team as well as the best player, has played in the 2010 U-19 FC Women’s Championship and 2012 FC U-19 Women’s Championship qualifiers.
Women’s activism in cricket and football
In Sabina’s experience, the Muslim community has also begun to be generous to women for football and cricket matches in Bangladesh. Muslim parents also want their daughters to team up for two popular sports. “By comparison, women are allowed to participate in football and cricket more than in other sports,” says Sabina.
Women’s team captain Sabina Khatoon said that Bangladesh has an encouraging environment for women’s football and especially women’s cricket.
However, it is still very difficult to remind some parents of ancient thinking. It was very difficult for some of the national team players to come from home in the beginning. Sabina says, “Players like Sajeta and Maria have reached the national team after suffering a lot. It was very difficult for him to get into the game. However, coming into the team, he is doing well.
Sabina as a Coach
Sabina has completed AFC B Diploma coaching course. She has also been seen in training since 2017.
He started his coaching career in 2017 as an assistant coach for SAFF U-16.
After Under-16, she has served as the assistant coach of Bangladesh women’s football U-18 team in the SAFF U-18 tournament in 2018.
Photos: Vikas Shrestha and Chandra Bahadur Ali/Online News