Meet Jaya Chakma, the first Bangladeshi woman FIFA referee

With the anticipations and excitement of football fanatics, the news of Jaya Chakma makes it better than ever! Jaya Chakma, a proud ethnic member from Rangamati, defied all barriers by establishing herself as one of the first Bangladeshi FIFA referees.

Alongside Jaya Chakma, Salma Islam is also on the list as an assistant referee with. With the public recognition of FIFA, this dynamic duo will be able to hold national team matches in 2020, on an international level.

Read more: The story of one Jamal Bhuyan of Bangladesh

A woman with great ambition for sports

Initially, Jaya drew everyone’s attention as she conducted matches for men’s football. She was one of the pioneering members of the national women’s team even after completing her Asian Football Confederation Class-3 refereeing certificate course in 2011. Unfortunately, due to injury, she missed 2012 SAFF Women’s Football Championship, which ended her playing career. But she never stopped pursuing her passion for football. Jaya Chakma started her refereeing career at the same year, without any pause. She is now conducting important Football League tournaments on a regular basis.

In an interview with Dhaka Tribune, she mentions how overwhelming her journey has become, but it was a matter of great pride to be able to represent her country on an international level.

Read more: First-ever Bangladeshi female commentator: Shathira Jakir Jessy

Jaya Chakma is consistent not only with sports but also her academics. Majoring in History with a Masters from Jahangirnagar University, she also pursued and received a Diploma in Sports Science.

Jaya will appear for the AFC Elite Panel is she receives the FIFA referee badge. Congratulations to one of the most well-deserved referees of all time!

Read more: Hamza Choudhury, the Bengali starlet of Leicester City

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The rise of Bangladesh Cricket

Bangladesh batting, you are stuck in a traffic jam. You start watching the match 30 minutes late, expecting to see already 3 openers going back to the hut.

This was a common situation even till 2011. And batting collapses were something we the fans had made our peace with. Best case scenarios were an odd win here and there, and Shakib and Mushfiqur anchoring us towards a somewhat defendable total or a less shameful loss.

But not anymore.

2007 World Cup and finding our 5 heroes

Many critics argue that knocking down England from the World Cup 2015 was the start of our renaissance. But, the real flash of self-belief and an attacking mindset took root in the famous win against India in the 2007 World Cup.

The rise of Bangladesh Cricket

Tamim fearlessly coming down the track was a statement for a new brand of cricket. Shakib and Mushfiq both had chipped in with a fifty, with Mashrafe rattling down the Indian batting with his pace Bowling.

Our core group of 5 players, popularly known as ‘Ponchopandob’, including Mahmudullah Riad, are playing for the team together since 2007.

And thank heavens for this bunch.

Steady growth in the middle and ups and downs

In between 2007 and 2011, the most positive thing for Bangladesh cricket was the rise of Shakib Al Hasan as the top all-rounder in the world. Abdur Razzaq, the veteran left-arm spinner, also dominated the bowler rankings during this period.

Bangladesh had whitewashed mighty New Zealand. With the whitewash of a relatively weaker West Indies side, Bangladesh team was gradually making a statement.

But, there was this lack of consistency and it showed. The batting collapses in 2011 World Cup against West Indies and South Africa were stark examples of our inconsistency.

The sudden sparks of brilliance after the 2011 World Cup

Bangladesh had a disappointing series after the 2011 world cup and Tamim was facing a good amount of criticism for his lack of form. But the 2012 Asia Cup was somewhat of a bittersweet memory for Bangladesh. Bangladesh lost to Pakistan in the first match but won 2 consecutive matches against India and Srilanka, knocking both of them out. Tamim had scored four consecutive half-centuries and had made a statement.

The rise of Bangladesh Cricket

But Bangladesh had a heartbreak for falling short of 2 runs, and the iconic scene of Mushfiq and Shakib bursting in tears still haunts the fans till date.

2015 World Cup and a new brand of cricket for Bangladesh

Bangladesh had struggled to find a perfect opening partner for Tamim Iqbal. The problem was wonderfully solved by the inclusion of Soumya Sarker. His attacking form of batting was something the opposition was not used to seeing.

The rise of Bangladesh Cricket

Fast forward to World Cup of 2015. Bangladesh vs England. Rubel Hossain bowling an amazing reverse swing delivery and Nasir Hossain chanting, “The Bangla tigers knocked out the English lions out of the world cup”. This is arguably the most memorable scene for any Bangladeshi fan so far.

After the 2015 World Cup, Bangladesh had won 3 consecutive series against the giants Pakistan, India, and South Africa. This was a major statement to the cricketing world that a win of Bangladesh is no longer an upset. Huge credit needs to be given to Captain Fantastic about how he marshalled his troops and created a sense of togetherness in the Bangladesh team.

Rise of Captain Fantastic and not looking back

The rise of Bangladesh Cricket

Another magical finding was our very own ‘Fizz’. Mustafizur Rahman had taken the world by storm through his mystery bowling. Although injuries hindered much of his rhythm, he is still a key member of the Bangladesh squad.

The rise of Bangladesh Cricket

Bangladesh has now become a force to be reckoned with in the cricketing world. The team that got bowled out for 58 runs and 78 runs to West Indies and South Africa in the 2011 World Cup, scored over 300 runs against both of the teams in the World Cup of 2019. We have great depth in our batting and we don brand a new form of fearless cricket.

It took us a while to finally get here, but we’re here at last. And we’re here to stay.

The story of one Jamal Bhuyan of Bangladesh

2019 is an exciting time to be a football fan in Bangladesh. Bangladesh made it to the second round of qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification. This tremendous feat came after winning the two-legged tie against Laos at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on the 13th of June, spearheaded by our talismanic captain Jamal Bhuyan.

Although Bangladesh is still a long way from securing their place for Qatar 2022, the Danish-born midfielder has been a revelation for team Bangladesh and Bangladesh football as a whole since his debut in 2013. And it’s time we finally give this man the limelight he deserves.

Not your average Bangladeshi upbringing

The story of our captain begins in the Danish town of Glostrup where he was born to Bangladeshi immigrant parents. He was involved in football from a very young age. At the age of 15, Jamal was playing for the Danish outfit Brøndby IF. After scoring against Denmark’s most prestigious club, F.C. Copenhagen (FCK), he was offered a place in the FCK’s youth academy.

After playing for a number of Danish sides, he moved to play in Philippines and China, before finally signing for Sheik Jamal in 2014, becoming the highest paid footballer in the country. As of 2017, he is playing for the Bangladeshi club Saif Sporting Club.

Leaving Denmark to represent Bangladesh

Being eligible to play for Denmark and Bangladesh, Jamal ended up choosing Bangladesh out of love for his father’s country. A country where he’s never been to. Jamal Bhuyan had a tough choice ahead of him. Keep playing for Denmark and F.C. Copenhagen where he would be catapulted into footballing glory. Or, come to Bangladesh and try to revive its bleak footballing scenario from dust and ashes. Jamal chose the latter.

Jamal Bhuyan chose country over personal glory.

He debuted for the Bangladesh national team, leaving the Danish luxury behind, in 2013 against Nepal in the 2013 SAF games. He became the first non-resident player to represent the national side.

Jamal Bhuyan was named the best defensive midfielder in South Asia in 2018 and remains so till this day, arguably.

He was also part of the commentary team as a guest commentator for Barcelona’s last La Liga match against Eibar last May. All in all, it’s safe to say that Jamal is truly making a mark in world football in our colours.

Future of Bangladesh football  

It is quite disappointing to admit that football in Bangladesh has been brushed aside with the rise of cricket. Gone are the days when Dhaka would split down the middle whenever there was an Abahani vs. Mohammedan match. Match attendance in stadiums are dwindling and lack of proper funding, talent scouting and football academies have been weighing down the progress of Bangladesh football.  

The story of one Jamal Bhuyan 2

But with the recent upturn in form, football in the country has been promising lately. With team Bangladesh going through to the second round of WC qualifier, the overall ranking has also gone up from 188th to 183rd.

Our love for cricket overshadows our footballing heroes

Cricketers are our superstars. We idolize the likes of Mashrafe, Shakib-Al-Hasan and Tamim Iqbal. And they deserve every last bit of our love and respect. But on a different frontline, a whole different bunch of heroes are fighting with blood, sweat and dedication to uphold Bangladesh’s name in the world stage. And if nothing else, they at least deserve our love and support as much as our cricketers.

Bangladesh has never lacked football fans and it’s quite evident with the huge fan following of numerous European clubs all over the country and whenever the World Cup rolls around the corner. So it’s time we develop and support our domestic football scene. And with Jamal Bhuyan at the helm, it seems like the time is now.       

Here’s to Jamal and the boys, for the next match and all the matches to come, we’ll roar with you.