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When the cricket school has no address

The scene at Dhanmondi’s Abahani ground was familiar to many. The field was filled with people of various ages, some walking, some running. Cricket and football games were in full swing. Amidst the crowd, you could spot two or three cricket academies practicing together. On one side of the field, parents waited for their children as the training sessions concluded, eager to take them home.

Now, that scene is no longer visible at the Abahani ground. What was once a hub of activities has now turned into Sheikh Kamal Sports Complex. Due to this transformation, the address-less condition has befallen 17 cricket academies that used to practice on this ground. Udoyon is one such academy facing this predicament. The coach of the academy, Al Amin Khan, mentioned that due to the lack of space at Abahani ground, they are conducting coaching sessions at Eidgah ground in Mohammadpur. The change in location has led to a decrease in the number of students attending. In the midst of this struggle, cricket education at Udoyon continues.

Talking about the dire situation of his own academy, Al Amin said, “I conduct training for 20 days a month in Mohammadpur. I pay 5,000 taka for field rent. When the academy was at Abahani ground, 35-40 boys used to come regularly. Now, it’s only 7-8 boys. Last month, I paid a salary of 11,000 taka and gave 5,000 taka for field rent. One coach is missing now, and it’s embarrassing. I can’t even tell anyone about the situation I am in.”

Mamun, the head coach of Lions Cricket Academy, has moved to Ghatarchara. The change of location has also reduced the number of students. He expressed his dissatisfaction, saying, “It’s a very bad situation. It’s embarrassing. I used to have 70-75 students, and 70-75 used to come regularly. Now, only 12-13 come regularly. The distance is making it difficult. Parents don’t want their children to travel this far. Most of our boys were from Dhanmondi-Mohammadpur area, and that has had an impact.”

Several academies in Dhanmondi have moved to Shyamoli Club ground. Cricket Coaching School (CCS) is one such academy, and its coach, Iqbal Hossen, is coaching cricketers at Shyamoli Club ground. Like others, they have also suffered due to the move. Iqbal said, “It costs 200-300 taka for students to come from Dhanmondi. It’s not possible every day. So many are leaving the academy. When we were in Dhanmondi, we had 200-250 students, and 70-75 used to come regularly. Now, only 30-40 come regularly.”

Even for these academies, it is not easy to find a solution for the current situation. For many years, several academies in Dhanmondi have been running their businesses without their own fields. Karwan Cricket Academy’s coach, Karim, is not willing to take the responsibility. However, he acknowledged the reality of the city’s limitations, saying, “Every academy has a responsibility. But making a field is not easy. Even if you want, you won’t find land within Dhaka. You may find it towards Keraniganj. But if you go that way, you won’t find students. Like others, my student numbers have also decreased a lot. Those who come don’t come regularly. Someone comes for one day and then doesn’t come for two days.”

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