The stage is set for budding athletes to further display their talents after making it so far as the final phase of the inaugural Bangladesh Youth Games get underway tomorrow.
The Games, involving U-17 athletes from 21 disciplines, has already concluded its district and divisional rounds and the final phase will be held at the Bangabandhu National Stadium. A colourful opening ceremony is expected to be followed by chief guest Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declaring the Games open in the evening.
The first phase of the Games started across all 64 districts simultaneously on December 18 with the participation of around 27,000 athletes at the district level. From there, about 6,500 qualified for the divisional phase.
Now 2,660 athletes will be vying for medals in 159 events across 21 disciplines while also hoping to draw attention and be chosen for junior youth teams. 340 gold, as many silver medals and 430 bronze medals will be distributed among the winners as there are a total of six team disciplines.
"During the meeting of the Bangladesh Games a few year back, we felt the need for the Youth Games and our dream to introduce the Youth Games has materialised through the first edition, which is the first of its kind [in the country]. Despite having some loopholes at district and divisional levels due to a lack of knowledge, we have completed the first and second phases successful and are now ready to complete the final phase in Dhaka with the help of respective national sports federations," said Bangladesh Olympic Association (BOA) secretary general Syed Shahed Reza at a press conference at the BOA auditorium yesterday.
"If we can hold the Youth Games regularly every four years, I believe some talented players will be added to the pipeline of the national teams ," said Reza.
The Youth Games were introduced at a time when the appeal for all sports bar cricket have been lost in the country. The primary objective of the Games was more to create a buzz among athletes than counting how many medals were collected.
The athletes will represent eight divisions in football, hockey, kabaddi, basketball, volleyball, handball, athletics, swimming, table tennis, weightlifting, wrestling, wushu, shooting, archery, badminton, boxing, chess, judo, karate, taekwondo and squash.
The football event already began before the opening ceremony while some others are expected to get underway today. The Games will conclude on March 16.
BOA vice-president Sheikh Basir Ahmed said they would evaluate the district and divisional phases of the Games and use the knowledge to hold it more smoothly in the future.