Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today urged everybody to shield the youths against evil vices like militancy, terrorism and drug through fostering sports and cultural activities.
"Sports and cultural activities develop sense of discipline, perseverance, dutifulness and patriotism in youths and the more we will be able to engage our children with sports and cultural activities, the more they will acquire sound health and mentality," she said.
"When they will be sound in health and mind, they will not be diverted to other ways like militancy, terrorism or drug addiction which are now polluting the society and destroying the youths," she added.
The prime minister said this while distributing the National Sports Awards for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 at a function at the Osmani Memorial Auditorium in the capital.
Sheikh Hasina said, "We have to bring back the youths from that destructive path and in view of this we have to create more opportunities to engage them in sports and cultural activities."
Bangladesh from now will celebrate April 6 every year as the National Sports Day being associated with the International Day for Sports of the United Nations, she said.
The prime minister urged everybody to give special attention to sports and cultural activities and particularly calling upon well-off section of the society to extend their helping hand for promotion of sports and cultural activities in the country.
State Minister for Youth and Sports Biren Sikder presided over the function while Deputy Minister Arif Khan Joy and chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Youths and Sports Zahid Ahsan Russell attended the function as special guest while secretary of the ministry Kazi Akhter Uddin Ahmed delivered welcome address.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed over the National Sports Awards to 32 sportsmen and organizers in recognition to their contributions from their respective fields to the development of sports.
Sheikh Kamal, a star in sports arena during the post-independence period and the eldest son of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was given the National Sports Award (posthumously) for 2011.
Founder of the country's leading sports club Abahani Krira Chakra Sheikh Kamal was assassinated along with his parents, spouse and other family members on the fateful night of August 15, 1975.
The recipients of national sports award for 2010 are: Master Warrant Officer Harun-Ur-Rashid (swimming), Atiqur Rahman (shooting), Mahmuda Begum (athletics), Dewan Md. Nazrul Hossain (gymnastics), Mizanur Rahman Manu (organiser), ASM Ali Kabir (organiser), Nayek Md. Tokbir Hossain (swimming, posthumously), Farid Khan Chowdhury (athletics), Nelee Jesmine (athletics) and Nipa Bose (athletics, Autistic).
National sports award recipients for 2011 are: Rowshan Ara Chobi (gymnastics), Sergeant Md. Kanchon Ali (boxing), Md. Ashraf Ali (wrestling), Helena Khan (Eva) (volleyball), Khaled Masud Pilot (cricket), M Robiul Islam (Fatik Dutta) (bodybuilding), Jumman Lusai (hockey, posthumously), Kutub Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury (Aksir) (organiser), Ashikur Rahman Miku (organiser) and Sheikh Kamal (athletics and organiser, posthumously).
And, the National Sports Award recipients for 2012 are: Shakib Al Hasan (cricket), Md. Mohsin (football), M Khurshid Alam Babul (football), Ashish Bhadra (football), Satyajit Das Rupu (football), Abdul Gaffar (football),Firoza Khatun (athletics), Nazia Akter Juthi (badminton), Kazi Rajib Uddin Ahmed Chapal (organiser), ANM Mamun Ur Rashid (hockey), Umme Salma Rafique (organiser, posthumously) and Nurul Alam Chowdhury (organiser).
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said sports were not excluded when Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was carefully laying the foundation of everything important for a new born nation.
Bangabandhu founded the National Sport Control Sangstha in 1972 and constituted 16 national sports federation. In 1974, the parliament enacted the Bangladesh Sports Council Act which cleared the ways of foundation of the present National Sports Council (NSC).
Sheikh Hasina said Bangabandhu established welfare foundation for sports persons and cultural activists in 1975. Bangabandhu signed agreements with many countries for cultural and sports exchange and sent many sports persons in the then Soviet Russia, East Germany and India for higher training.
During his very short tenure in power, Bangabandhu, on the one hand, had devoted himself for socio-economic development of the country. And on the other, he had created scope for development of sports and nation's culture. But, it's our misfortune that all those measures became stagnant after killing of Bangabandhu, she said.
The sports arena gained momentum after 21 years when the Awami League assumed power in 1996. Awami league government at that time sowed the seed of success in cricket, she said pointing out the Bangladesh's success in 1997 to qualify for ICC World Cup Cricket for the first time.
After its emergence in the cricket, Bangladesh has already beat most of the world giants. And the real fact is that every team now counts 'Royal Bengal Tigers'. "The tigers would do better in future one day they would win the world cup," the prime minister hoped.
Pointing out the country's successes in sports at global stage particularly in cricket, the prime minister said Bangladesh also proved its worth in organizing many international level events over the years successfully.
All sports organizations are now being run democratically where no election was held from 2001 to 2008. Bangabandhu Krira Sebi Kalyan Foundation Ain has been enacted to give support to the sports persons, she said adding that financial assistance and donation for sports has been increased.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has increased the amount of its giving importance on chase, shooting, basketball, handball, gymnastics, archery, swimming and other Olympic events apart from giving encouragement to indigenous sports.
The prime minister said her government has given importance on training of the sports persons. In view of this BKSP has been upgraded as a modern institution, she said adding that BKSP would have branch in each division.