Despite Bangladesh's huge population - with 160 million inhabitants, it has the eighth largest in the world - the nation comes in at the lower end of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, in 157th place. This, however, has not dampened the country’s passion for football – in fact, quite the contrary. FIFA is fostering this passion and supporting positive football development in Bangladesh through the Goal Programme.
As part of this programme, at the beginning of March 2012, the FIFA Preferred Producer LIMONTA SPORT provided the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) with an 11-a-side football turf pitch – the first football turf pitch ever to be laid in Bangladesh. In November 2012, the pitch was granted the rigorous 'FIFA RECOMMENDED 1 STAR' quality mark for amateur and grassroots football and has since then also been approved for matches of the national team. A very special moment for football in Bangladesh.
But the journey from the start of construction work in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital city, to the completion of the pitch, did not always run smoothly. The south Asian country is in the area affected by the south-west monsoon, during which rainfall of 1500 to 2250mm are not unusual. These climatic conditions meant that the experts from LIMONTA SPORT had a difficult task, which they tackled with great success.
Due to the heavy rainfall, it was essential to install the right type of subsoil for the football turf pitch, as well as a network of pipes to remove large volumes of water. Finally, the pitch also had to be able to withstand even the worst weather conditions and not turn into a gigantic bog during the rainy season, like the old pitch.
Finding the right materials was therefore a priority, but this also posed a challenge as the raw materials available in Bangladesh were not suitable to meet the specific demands and provide a long-lasting pitch. LIMONTA SPORT and its local partners had to look to neighbouring countries for the right materials, e.g. sand or stone, which were then refined and adapted for the climatic requirements.
The use of special tools and machinery to ensure the correct density and levelness of the surface also played an important role in the successful completion of the project. And last but not least, the installation of the pitch, which has quickly become the focal point of the local community, would not have been possible without the intensive efforts of the skilled and experienced workers.
Best possible financial and technical support
Every day, hundreds of children of all ages use the pitch, which is located in one of the most densely populated areas of Dhaka. They can show off their skills here for six to ten hours a day, whatever the weather. This wonderful investment in young people is also the first stage of Bangladesh’s football-development journey.
FIFA will also be there to support and encourage the BFF on its journey. On 6 March 2012, a FIFA delegation led by President Joseph S. Blatter visited Bangladesh to officially open the football turf pitch. During his visit, the FIFA President expressed his admiration for the efforts being made by the association and the local community to increase participation in football.
“There are 160 million inhabitants in your country, and I am certain that Bangladesh has the pool of talent it needs. You only have to look at the World Cup qualifiers to see that you are on the right track. You’re nearly there, and you might well make it next time. Football is hope and passion, so keep on going!” said President Blatter.
New FA headquarters and a football academy are also being built next to the football turf pitch, thanks to support from the Goal Programme. “That’s where FIFA can help us out,” explained Kazi Mohammed Salahuddin, President of the BFF. “The overall aim is for the Bangladeshi national team to improve its performances and to regain a prominent position in the Asian zone.”