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Fans catch rare glimpse of trophy

Sudipta Ananda

Fans pose for photograph in front of the FIFA World Cup trophy at the Radisson Water Garden hotel on Wednesday. — Sourav Loskar Fans pose for photograph in front of the FIFA World Cup trophy at the Radisson Water Garden hotel on Wednesday. — Sourav Loskar

Thousands of football fans ignored the political turmoil to gather at hotel Radisson Water Garden on Wednesday to get a glimpse of the FIFA World Cup trophy, which has been put on display by the Bangladesh Football Federation.
The BFF brought the trophy in association with Coca Cola, a co-sponsor of the World Cup, on Tuesday for three days, providing fans a rare opportunity a catch a glimpse of  the trophy and take a snap. The organisers provided each person a photo with the trophy within a few minutes which excited the viewers.
Alongside the general spectators, many dignitaries including the members of the national football team, club footballers, golf icon Siddikur Rahman and Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner Benzir Ahmed also visited the hotel to see the trophy.
The programme was originally scheduled at the Bangabandhu National Stadium, but the BFF shifted the venue citing logistical problems. The federation officials, however, said FIFA did not give the BFF any permission to display the precious trophy in an open stadium due to political unrest.  
`I felt honoured by watching the trophy on our own soil,’ said Ferdous Ahmed, a businessman, who came from Gulshan along with his 12 family members. `We ignored the blockade because maybe we won’t get this type of opportunity ever.’
Milon, who is better known for his colourful presence in the gallery during the cricket matches of Bangladesh national team, also did not want to miss the opportunity of seeing the World Cup trophy.
Painting his body in the colours of national flag, Milon arrived at the hotel in the afternoon and immediately drew the attention of some curious fans who had been waiting in the queue. 
`I paint my body wherever Bangladesh cricket and football team play,’ Milon told New Age.  I came here to witness the historic trophy.
Abdul Halim, who put his name in the Guinness Book of World Record by walking a long distance with a football on his head, also displayed his skills with the ball, providing the cheering football fans some entrainment.
The trophy will also remain on display today for the last time and the BFF expects a few more dignitaries to take the chance.
Among the guests, who are expected to visit the hotel today to see the trophy, there will be 117 athletes, who recently represented Bangladesh in the Special Olympics’ Asia Pacific Games in Australia and won as many as 43 gold medals, making the nation proud.           
The organisers also invited students of the Bangladesh Shishu Academy and Jago Lalitakala Kendra to see the World Cup today, said an official of Coca Cola Bangladesh.
`Due to a last-minute change of the venue, we had to cut down some programmes but tomorrow (today) we will give the opportunity to the members of Special Olympics team along with the students of the Bangladesh Shishu Academy and Jago Lalitakala Kendra,’ said the officials.
Meanwhile, some national footballers expressed their disappointment as the BFF did not take any initiative to take them to the programme, which they said would have been highly encouraging.
`It would be more graceful for us if we [national team] could come here together wearing the national team jerseys but due to the change in venue we were  told to attend the programme on our own,’ said national team captain Mamunul Islam, who came to see the trophy with his Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club team-mates.
Mamunul said it will be an extra motivation for them to try to qualify for the World Cup after they managed to see the trophy with open eyes.
‘It’s a great pleasure for me to have fulfilled my primary dream by watching the trophy,’ said Mamunul. 
‘This trophy will give us an extra motivation for achieving the biggest goal, which is playing in a World Cup,’ he said.

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