Brigadier General Md Tajul Islam Thakur, Secretary General of BGF
As the new Secretary General of the Golf Federation, what is your view on Bangladesh’s position in golf and its potential?
Golf Is comparatively a new sport in Bangladesh. In that context, we are yet to secure a significant position in golf. But definitely we have huge potential in this sport. Especially the way young generation is taking interest, if they can be given proper directives and training, they will certainly do well in this sport.
What are your plans regarding development of Golf?
For development of golf, we need both awareness and training. Still many people especially the youngsters are not that acquainted with this sport. As the sport gains popularity, we will get more potential golfers. Then these people can be trained and BGF is committed to support this. We are aiming training at different tiers starting from junior level foundation course to skill development of professional. Bringing the golf course within the close proximity of all major cities is another aspect. Keeping that point in mind, BD army is also supporting this sport as they have an organizational support. Now you will find a golf course almost in all the cantonments. BGF maintains very close coordination with all the clubs and provide all out support so that the training and other facilities can be extended to all clubs.
What are your plans regarding dev of the club?
Dev of Club is a continuous process. The efforts are always on to increase the number of clubs in the country. Using the organizational structure of Army, we have the plan to develop at least a Nine Hole Course in all the major cantonments and work is in progress as per the plan. For incoming days, our focus is to improve service of the club and make it more rewarding to the club members. The development will include the facilities of the club house, the improvement of the course and also the training facilities. Besides, we will continue our effort for creating more awareness with the support of all our stake holders and partners including the media.
What are BGF’s strategies regarding encouraging the private-owned golf courses in Bangladesh?
Developing and maintaining a golf course is a very expensive affair. The more golf clubs we will have in the country, more opportunities will be there to develop in this sport. So, from BGF we will always encourage this effort. CEOs/MDs and top official of almost all the renowned group of companies are the members of the KGC. Now some of these companies are in the real estate business which is developing large residential area/cities. Some of them may plan small golf course in that area. Anyone who chooses to take on such ventures will have our utmost support in this aspect.
Building capacity of course maintenance is the key; could you be more specific as to how the courses will be developed?
Well, the course is the life of any golf club. As one of the international venue, KGC is committed to maintain its standard. For this we have relevant experts in all the fields who are working for continuous development of the course. Grounds men are well aware about their jobs, dedicated supervisors are there to take care of the greenlife. We regularly consult with the experts on development and maintenance of the golf grass which includes applying right kind of medicine/pesticides, irrigation facilities etc. In the forthcoming days, our focus will be to make the maintenance more systematic and accountable. This will also include daily reporting on the state of course at the end of the day. With the feedback from all stakeholders, hopefully we will be able to make the course more appealing to the golfers.
Define association of our youth with golf?
You know, Golf is a game which needs conditioning of your muscle which can be very easy for the youngsters. In most of the developed countries, they start the sport at a very early age. In our case though the state is not up to the expectations, but it is increasing day by day. At present almost all the golfers try to bring their children in this game. They also feel that given the right directives and training, this game has a bright future. This is the game which not only increases your sportsmanship but also provide scopes to learn and practice many important traits like patience, respecting others view, shaping the norms and behavior, art of socialization etc. Our young generations are also taking interest and they can feel that this is a game which can increase their connectivity with each other for a better future. We are also trying our best to support the young stars in terms of sending them abroad for training, for participation in friendly tournament etc. So, the age old myth that golf is the game for the senior citizens no longer exist.
Do you agree with the saying that this game is only for the elite group?
Well, golf is a game which demands some financial backup, but the way our country is developing progressively, this game is coming within the manageable state and participants are also increasing. The number of applicants for the membership in almost all the clubs bears the testimony of this statement.
Caddies do play a major role in the sport, any plans for these people behind the iron curtain?
We are doing our best to support the caddies to develop their skills. That’s why you will see many of the golfers whose names are in the forefront of this sport were from this group. Beside the arrangements of periodical tournament for the caddies in different clubs like AGC, Savar and other places, we are supporting them with training facilities, finding out appropriate sponsor for them, sending them abroad for training courses etc are in the list. This will continue in future also and we will try our best to strengthen our effort for them.
The junior tournament used to be held quite regularly few years back. Is there any initiative from BGF to resume the tournament again?
Yes, BGF had to discontinue the regular junior tournament since 2017 at KGC. This is particularly due to the lack of adequate junior golfers. This is partly the outcome of the compliance of regulations by RE/A auth which demands that junior golfers need to play the tournament without caddies in international events. In our country, we used to allow them with caddies. But when selected junior golfers used to be sent for international events, they used to face the problem there. So, we also tried to implement the same and the result was the lack of interest which ultimately reduced the number of junior golfers. Another part is the increase of regular golfers for which at present it is difficult for clubs like KGC to spare slots for few junior golfers. However. still juniors have the scope to participate in Faldo Series which takes place every year at KGC. Besides, there are other clubs of the country where there are junior group category in almost all the regular competition. Nevertheless, we will further explore this issue and find out some modalities so that junior golfers can have more access to the course.
As a Club Captain, tell us a bit about your plans for the future development of KGC?
As Club Captain at first I sincerely acknowledge the contribution of all my predecessors. The cumulative efforts of all of them have brought the KGC in the present state. Now it is the premier golf club of the country where international events are also taking place. We already have a very organized set up at KGC to take care of the course and also the club house. As Club Captain, my priority will continue towards the development of the course itself. Better maintenance of the greens, fairway, lakes/water bodies, improving the night golfing facilities will continue. For this, we are committed to improve the capacity of our technical staffs and equip them with required tools. Besides, efforts will be also taken to add more beautification in the course so that a walk in the course not only satisfy your sporting need, but also gives you a mental refreshment with an eye pleasing beauty of nature. Apart from the golf course, the better management of the tournament, improvement of the different facilities of club house, increasing the scope for more training, encouraging the junior golfers and sponsoring/supporting the caddy’s are some of the items in my list.
The next Asian Tour will probably will be in February next year. Give us a bit of an insight into the preparations.
As of today, the Asian Tour is going to be held in Mar 2020. The initial planning and preparation is already completed. We have already informed our time slot to the Asian Tour Authority. Very soon they will give us the final confirmation on this. Then we will start the other formalities like arrangement of the prize money, sending invitation to the other countries, booking the hotels for accommodating foreign golfers etc. Last time we had about 87 foreign golfers from 40 countries. This time the number may even increase. But we have time at hand and all the procedure is set here. So, with the progress of the time, required preparation at all levels will be completed and hopefully we will have a more colorful Asian Tour. For your information, this year under the banner of Asian Tour, we will also have another international event which we named Bangabondhu Cup Orion Armature Golf Tournament which is going to be in January 20. This will be organized as one of the events of celebrating the 100th Birth Anniversary of Father of the Nation. We will do everything at our end to bring a festive look for this and certainly this is going to be one of the most colorful tournaments, the nation has ever experienced.
Let’s talk about your own golfing? How did you come to Golf?
This is the inspiration from the seniors in Army. Besides, the encouragement of my other friends and colleagues are also the reasons which made me associated with the golf. Personally I like games and sports and I remain deeply involved in physical activities to maintain my fitness. Though I am a late starter, but slowly and gradually golf became one of my passions. Apart from giving service to the club, I will continue my efforts to improve my personal golfing.
The Golf House is working to promote local golf since 2015; tell something about the role that media can play in promoting golf?
Certainly media has a very strong role specially to create awareness within the young generations. Besides, media can help to give more exposure to our clubs and the facilities, doing publicity of the tournaments held in different clubs and most importantly to influence the different corporate house of the country to become more actively involved to promote golf. In doing so, Golf House is doing splendid job. But we need more print and electronic media like you to come up and support to promote golf.
We promote a tagline That Golf will be the second biggest sport in Bangladesh by 2025. What can be done further to reach that level?
We like to echo with you in the same voice and will be happy to see that. But this will need hard work from all stakeholders. Beside the BGF, media, various corporate houses, the educational institute may play very good role to create awareness. As the awareness increases, the prospect of golf will also be understood and we will get more potential golfers for our future.