Centre for Research and Information (CRI) honored Khelaghar, one of the oldest platforms for children in Bangladesh and Shadhin Bangla Football Team with its ‘Pathfinder Award’ on 18th November, 2023 at the Joy Bangla Youth Award ceremony held in Sheikh Hasina National Youth Development Institute, Savar. CRI’s Chairperson and the prime minister’s ICT adviser Sajeeb Wazed handed over the awards to the representatives of these organizations.
On behalf of Shadhin Bangla Football Team, captain Zakaria Pintoo and vice-captain Pratap Shankar Hazra received the award from Sajeeb Wazed. Mahfuza Khanam, the chairperson of Khelaghar with a cadet representative Tasmia Nisrat Tiana received the award.
About ‘Pathfinder’ award
In the 50th year celebration of Bangladesh in 2021, CRI introduced the ‘Pathfinder Award,’ a special recognition for individuals/institutions/initiatives who have made significant contributions to the post-independence nation-building and founding values fostering efforts through leadership, service, community-organizing and research.
In 2021, secular and progressive initiative Mangal Shobhajatra, a rally on Bengali new year for all walks of people, was recognized with the Pathfinder Award. Another recipient was Anjuman Mufidul Islam – a welfare organization dedicated to distressed people. The award was also conferred to Rubaiyat Mansur and Elisabeth Fahrni Mansur who played a crucial role in making three sanctuaries for freshwater dolphins in the Sundarbans.
In 2022, Younguang Mro, a writer and researcher, received the award for his contribution to Mro (a near-extinct language is southeastern hills) literature. Unmad— Bangladesh’s oldest socio-political cartoon magazine was also acknowledged as Pathfinder for catering to young creative minds and practicing freedom of speech and expression. Renowned cartoonist Ahsan Habib received the award on behalf of Unmad Magazine.
About 2023 Pathfinders – Khelaghar and Shadhin Bangla Football Team
Khelagha originated as a result of a cultural movement in response to West Pakistan’s discriminatory policies toward the Bengalis of East Pakistan in 1952. A band of cultural activists including poet Habibur Rahman initiated the platform to infuse the spirit of secularism and science in the minds of children. Starting with literary practices, Khelaghar’s activities later spread to diverse cultural areas. After contributing to the movement for liberation of Bangladesh, Khelaghar inspired its members to voluntarily serve the newly independent country. They continue leaving their footprints in promoting secularism, culture and science among the new generations. At present, there are more than 550 units of Khelaghar all over the country.
On 24 July 1971, the Shadhin Bangla Football Team (which mean a football team for an in dependent Bangladesh) was formed to garner public support and funds for conducting the Liberation War against the Pakistani occupation army. The team played at least 16 matches in different cities of India and contributed a substantial amount to the Muktijoddha Fund (fund for freedom fighters) of the provisional government of Bangladesh. The first match was played against “Nadia Zilla Krira Samiti Dol”, attended by almost 25,000 spectators. That was the first time when the Bangladeshi flag featured at a sports event. The Shadhin Bangla Football Team has remained a symbol of courage and patriotism for Bangladeshis everywhere.