Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday urged the private sector to patronise the sports saying the sector demand their support for its development.
"I believe that alongside the government's patronage, private sponsorship is needed for the evolvement of the country's sports and culture,” she said while addressing the Sheikh Kamal National Sports Council (NSC) Award-2023 distribution ceremony at Osmani Memorial Auditorium in Dhaka.
The premier insisted that the country would not witness the expected development of sports and cultural arena without the private sector initiatives and supports and added "I hope you (private sector) will stay beside the country's sports and cultural sectors”.
The event coincided with the birth anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s eldest son Shaheed Sheikh Kamal, a 1971 veteran who is also known for his extra ordinary role in the development of newborn country’s sports and cultural fields.
She said despite limited facilities Bangladeshi players were bringing glory and reputation for the country and the enhanced patronage could enable them to earn more pride for the nation.
Sheikh Hasina said under her government’s initiatives football tournaments were being organised in primary school, college and university levels alongside other sports competitions at grassroots.
She said that the government was now constructing Sheikh Russel Mini Stadium in each Upazila so the children could concentrate on sports round the year.
"(You should) search the local talents and patron them . . . You will see that they will take Bangladesh ahead and increase the glory and reputation of the country," Sheikh Hasina added.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports organised the ceremony on the occasion of the 74th birth anniversary of Shaheed Captain Sheikh Kamal, a military officer as well.
At the ceremony, the premier handed over the Sheikh Kamal (NSC) Award-2023 to 10 sports personalities and two organizations in recognition of their outstanding contribution to sports.
Abdus Sadek, the legendary hockey player and the first captain of the Bangladesh national hockey team, was given the lifetime achievement award.
Women's football team captain Sabina Khatun, cricketer Taskin Ahmed and South Asian gold medalist weightlifter Ziarul Islam got the award in the sportsman category.
Table tennis player Muhtasin Ahmed Hridoy and hockey player Amirul Islam received the emerging athlete award, while grassroots hockey organiser Fazlul Islam and Kalsindur Govt School and College's principal Mala Rani Sarker were given the awards in sports organiser category.
Khandakar Tarek Md Nurullah received the sports journalist award, while Bangladesh Archery Federation received the sports association/federation/organisation award, and Bangladesh Association of Banks (BAB) got the sports sponsor award.
On behalf of BAB, Md Nazrul Islam Mazumder and Chowdhury Nafeez Sarafat received the award.
In addition, the ministry, for the first time, included the sports commentator category in the Sheikh Kamal NSC award. Former national cricketer and cricket commentator Atahar Ali Khan received the sports commentator award.
Each of the awardees received Taka one lakh, a crest, and a certificate.
With State Minister for Youth and Sports Md. Zahid Ahsan Russel in the chair, its Secretary Dr Mohiuddin Ahmed delivered the welcome address.
Prime Minister's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman also spoke reminiscing the life and activities of Sheikh Kamal.
On behalf of the award recipients, Abdus Sadek and Sabina Khatun spoke at the function.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Youth and Sports Abdullah Al Islam Jakob was present.
At the outset, an audio-visual on life and activities of Freedom Fighter Shaheed Captain Sheikh Kamal was screened.
The premier also unveiled the cover of a book "Sheikh Kamal: Khanajonma Ek Nakhkhatra.
Earlier on August 3, the names of the 10 sports personalities and two organizations in eight categories were announced for the prestigious Sheikh Kamal NSC Award-2023.
The recipients for this award have been finalized after being scrutinized by the concerned committee in light of specific criteria in recognition of outstanding contributions to sports.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports introduced the Sheikh Kamal NSC Award for the first time in 2021 on the occasion of Sheikh Kamal's 72nd birth anniversary.
The prime minister also distributed "Bangabandhu Sports Scholarship" at the ceremony.
The scholarship is being given by the Bangabandhu Krirashebi Kalyan Foundation in fiscal year 2023-24.
A total of 500 students is being provided with the scholarship, where students in classes V-X is getting Taka 12,000 annually, Taka 1,000 each month, while students in classes XI to honors level is getting Taka 24,000 annually, Taka 2,000 each month.
Earlier, before joining this ceremony, the premier, at her official residence, Ganabhaban released a commemorative postage stamp of Taka 10, a souvenir sheet comprising three stamps of Taka 40, first day cover of Taka 10, a data card of Taka 5, and used a canceller on the occasion of Sheikh Kamal's birth anniversary.
The Prime Minister said that the nation will always remember the contribution of Sheikh Kamal in the sports arena of Bangladesh, as he was involved in various sports like football, cricket, badminton, and hockey.
“Sheikh Kamal has specially contributed to the excellence of the country's football game by establishing Abahani Limited,” she noted.
Alongside sports, Sheikh Hasina said, Sheikh Kamal was also involved in various cultural activities.
Mentioning that Sheikh Kamal formed the Spandan Band group, she said Sheikh Kamal popularized various folk songs of the country by using modern instruments like the electric organ.
Referring to Sheikh Kamal's skill in acting, she said Sheikh Kamal used to perform well in drama.
Bangabandhu's elder daughter, Sheikh Hasina, praising her brother Sheikh Kamal, said that Sheikh Kamal's organizing skills were very strong. “But he never tried to be a leader or to go for any position. The thought of making money through trading and business was never on his mind. Rather, he was very careful about this.”
Stating that Sheikh Kamal had a sense of responsibility from his childhood, Sheikh Hasina said that Sheikh Kamal was originally a versatile talent.
In terms of family and social aspects, she said that "Sheikh Kamal was very responsible. Because most of the time my father was in jail. From a small age, Kamal always stayed beside his mother for household work. A sense of responsibility was developed in him from an early age.”
Sheikh Hasina said that Sheikh Kamal was very focused on his studies, although their house was always full of people, but he continued his studies.
“… if Sheikh Kamal were alive today, she might not have to take such a big responsibility today,” the Prime Minister said in an emotional voice.