Team from Bangladesh makes youth world championship debut

23 August 2019
Madrid, Spain
Bangladesh won its first-ever Olympic quota place for Tokyo 2020.

The bronze medal that Ruman Shana won at the senior world championships earlier this summer has caused a spike in interest in the sport across Bangladesh.

Two months after the unprecedented result, eight young archers have made the journey to Spain. Bangladesh’s first team at the World Archery Youth Championships is driven by their national archery idol’s achievement.

“The archers are more motivated. They dream to be like Ruman Shana. They have evidence that anybody can have an archery career,” said Mohammad Ziaul Hoque, one of the coaches.

“Actually, archery is now very popular in Bangladesh. Before it wasn’t so much. After Ruman’s medal at the world championships, people got crazy about archery. They’re very interested.”

Journalists have been taking an interest in a team that, previously, was firmly in the background of the sporting landscape.

“It feels like something is going to happen around archery in our country,” added Ziaul.

Things have been changing at a fast pace in the Bangladesh national team since German-born Martin Frederick took the head coach role. He’s implemented new training methods, structures around elite archery and is developing talent identification.

It’s already paying off.

“Bangladesh has a few sports. Of course, number one is cricket but archery is set to become number two. It’s in focus, people know it. It’s good,” said Frederick.

“Look, it’s the first time we participate in the world youth championships. We’re present here, the federation organised money to send our athletes here. They’re really talented and Ruman is the figurehead. They know it’s possible and they follow him.”

Shana’s success might bring more funding and attract more interest and participation. The head coach reckons support will keep improving.

The challenge now is making a high level of performance sustainable.

There are only approximately 300 competition archers across the country. Large European federations like France have about 70,000 members. There’s a long way to go.

“The structure is very different from what we know from Europe where there are a lot of clubs. In Bangladesh, there are organisations like the army, sport schools or bodyguards and they have some more-or-less professional archers,” explained Martin.

“Otherwise, it’s difficult to arrange equipment and the stuff we need to participate in competitions. These organisations make a kind of talent hunt, coaches look obviously for the best ones. We have a national competition calendar, we see them all and invite them for training camps.”

The eight-strong group in Madrid have come through that process. 

They’ve shot well in the championships. Although there won’t be any archer from Bangladesh contesting a medal, seven of the eight members of the squad won at least one match.

Molla Sakib made the third round, finishing a team-high 17th in the recurve junior men’s competition. His team made the quarterfinals, too, and came eighth.

“Archery is now more popular in Bangladesh after Ruman won his world championships medal and Olympic quota,” said Sakib. “Bangladesh is very proud of him.” 

“We also believe we can make our dreams come true.”

The 2019 World Archery Youth Championships takes place on 19-25 August in Madrid, Spain.