Despite the difficulties encountered with the Coronavirus pandemic, Bangladesh has managed to host their 3rd National Pesäpallo Championships last weekend. The pitches are on grass and the equipment is not the same as the high tech specifications used in Superpesis, but the enthusiasm and effort put into arranging and playing the games was phenomenal. For these reasons, it is in fact reminiscent of the first Pesäpallo Championships in Finland.
Bangladesh has a strong national identity and it becomes very clear how much pride they take in their sporting achievements. As a young boy I recall Scotland losing to Bangladesh in the 1999 Cricket World Cup, a devastating blow for Scotland, but a great achievement for an emerging cricketing nation like Bangladesh. Fast forward to 2011 and Bangladesh beat England in the Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. By this time, Bangladesh had secured their place amongst the best cricketing nations and their fans celebrated across the world. In the 2019 Cricket World Cup I had the privilege of seeing Bangladesh play England in Cardiff; although it was a victory for England in the end, there can be no denying how proud and enthusiastic the Bangladeshi fans were – it was a real party atmosphere.
Pesäpallo in Bangladesh is still very much in its early stages, but it is rapidly growing in popularity and gaining recognition in the National media. The main drive for all of this was the success of the Bangladeshi teams at the 2019 Pesäpallo World Cup in Pune India, where they won Silver medals in the Women’s and the mixed tournaments and bronze in the Men’s. This was their first World Cup appearance!
This year’s tournament was held over 3 days and the 3rd championship in Bangladesh and was between 8 teams:
- Bangladesh police
- Altab Hossain khan sriti sangshod
- Bangladesh Ansar
- Savar community
- Dhaka Zila
- Sand Angel
- Gajirchat kishor Academy
- Tongi Sporting Club
The tournament was a straight knockout tournament (much like the first National Championships in Finland).
In the first round Tongi had to pull out of the tournament, which gave Savar Community an automatic win and place in the semi finals. Bangladesh Police came into the tournament having won the last 2 titles and claimed victory in their first game 9-0 over Dhaka Zila. In the other games, Sand Angel beat Gajirchat Kishor Academy 5-0 and Bangladesh Ansar beat Altab 5-2 to make up the other teams in the semi-finals.
In the first of the semi-finals, Bangladesh Ansar took a convincing 13-2 win over Savar Community to reach their second consecutive final. Bangladesh Police almost saw their chance of a 3rd consecutive title slip through their fingers in a nail biting 1-0 win over Sand Angel.
The final saw Bangladesh Police concede the most runs they had done all tournament, but it was not enough for Bangladesh Ansar to overcome the score that Bangladesh Police put on the board. Bangladesh Police won their 3rd championship with a convincing 17-5 win. The 3rd place match saw Sand Angel win against Savar Community; if only they had managed to break the Bangladesh Police’s defence in their semi-final, things could have been very different.
One of the curious things about expanding a sport to different countries, is just how that sport develops and changes to fit with the cultural styles of play and the playing conditions. In Japan, baseball has enjoyed over 100 years of success and the style of play is less focussed on home runs and more on team play (much like pesäpallo). The fans in the stands have their own cheering sections and songs, as well as traditions; for example the Tokyo Swallows fans all get out umbrellas and sing a traditional folk song (Tokyo Ondo). By expanding pesäpallo we open up to a whole new word of exciting progress and development both on and off the field and create something special that bridges gaps between cultures.
The future looks promising for pesäpallo in Bangladesh, as well as other countries in the Indian subcontinent. It will be exciting to see what happens in the years to come and how the game will develop and become part of Bangladeshi culture.
If you want to learn more about Pesäpallo in Bangladesh, you can check out their Facebook page Bangladesh Pesäpallo Association
Or if you want to learn about international Pesis in general, join the English Language group on Facebook