It has been a decade since a couple of teenagers in Old DOHS decided to form a football club for a local tourney. Fast forward 10 years, and we are looking at one of the most successful clubs in the history of Underground football. DOHS United (DU) needs no introduction for the regular Underground (UG) followers: a powerhouse of a club that has produced extraordinary teams year after year with talents that has caught the attention of the professional counterpart of domestic football, and now reaching new heights on international levels. DOHS United is also one of the very few teams that is rated by The UFA, the biggest governing body of the Underground football scene in Dhaka.
We caught up with DOHS United veteran and skipper, Zarif Ud Doula Adit, to talk about the origins of the club, the successes the club has enjoyed over the years and football in general.
1. DOHS United is known to be one of the biggest teams in the Underground platform since the birth of Underground. How did it all start with DOHS United?
DOHS United started out as a play/hangout activity among some teenagers at Old DOHS. Back in 2003, a couple of friends living in Old DOHS, Shahnian Taneem Navin, Rakesh Ibrahim, Rahat Bin Kamal Imu and Riasad Chowdhury, were the first ones to form this team comprising teenagers who played football at the Old DOHS field. The reason was to compete in the very first sporting event at Old DOHS, “Old DOHS Football Tournament 2003”. And thus the birth of “DOHS United”.
Then in 2004, DOHS United’s captain and vice-captain, Navin and Imu, decided to form another team comprising their schoolmates, calling themselves “Red Court”, to compete in the football tournament, which had become a yearly event. The helm of leading DOHS United and shouldering its responsibility fell on me, the team’s Centre Back. From then on I have tried my best to spearhead the team through thick and thin as the captain, and I can say the team quickly became a platform for budding talents.
2. How were the early days for DOHS United?
The early days were a struggle for players because the major players of all the teams that competed in the tournament played at the field and the number of spots there were limited. However, the team did well with the players they had considering the fact that it was one of the biggest underground football tournaments of that time.
3. I am sure you have a ton of memories with DOHS United. Tell us one of your great experiences with the team.
Well, the team has had many great experiences, both on and off the field. At one point in 2009, a lot of our players had to leave the team due to other commitments in life, and the team’s future was looking rather bleak. But a couple of the team’s old-timers pulled up their socks and asked some youngsters who played at the field to be a part of DOHS United. And as clichéd as it sounds, it was very dramatic how the old guns gathered around these new talents and formed one of the greatest and explosive Old DOHS teams ever.
This new version of DOHS United brought home the champions trophy of “Dhaka Soccer Championship 2009”. The team’s unity and understanding was unparalleled throughout the tournament. My heart swells with pride and joy whenever I recall the memory of building this team’s spellbinding version.
4. Were there any specific tournament where DOHS United did exceptionally well?
That has to be the aforementioned “Dhaka Soccer Championship 2009”.
5. You are one of the few veterans of UG football who have seen it all but how do the new days of UG compare with the old?
Now, with the spread of media and the internet, youngsters are getting a greater exposure on football and are able to acquire better skills. A similar increase in the number of tournaments means that these aspiring talents are getting a springboard to further flourish their capabilities and get recognition they duly deserve. And besides, there is also better connectivity among the community of underground football players. Previously it just used to be the one forum by The UFA where all the players used to chat and connect, but after Facebook and other social platforms the connectivity between the UG players has gone on to a whole new level.
6. Staying on the topic, what are some of the changes in UG football that you like and dislike?
One thing that I really like is that there are more tournaments being held at present where you can grade your skills as a team. At the same time, I have come to dislike the fact that most of the tournaments are now being organised with a profit-making mindset instead of for the love of the game, and in a hurried and disorderly manner.
7. For all these years you have been the man leading DOHS United to every game as the captain and I am sure man management is definitely not an easy thing but right now I am going to put you in a very tough position for being the captain: name three of your favourite players from DOHS United and tell us why they are your favourites!
Hahaha…tough question indeed since all of DOHS United’s players are quite skilled in their own ways. Well if I really have to, then I would pick:
- Sameen Sakib Islam – the most talented and fast grown player I have ever seen and worked with in UG football and having him in our team was a great pointer for us. He joined DOHS United in 2010 and since then he was a power house and strength for the team and he became better and better with time.
- Sharan Khan – Our super skilled Attacker, he got magic in his feet , he can roll and dribble the ball and make the opponent dance with his skills .
- Abdul Wadud Khan – DOHS United’s current Captain and the sailor of the team. He has always been a great support on & off the field both. Since he became the Captain DOHS United started playing street football tournaments as well and we already have 23 Street Championship title under United’s name.
8. Let’s talk about the quality of UG in general – is there anyone you think who could have gone on to play as a professional?
From the players I have seen throughout my days in UG football, I can say without doubt that DOHS United’s Right Wing Back Sameen Sakib Islam could have made it to the top league. He was already practicing with both the Under-16 National Team and Muktijoddha Sangsad Krira Chakra. So that says it all about him and his exquisite talent.
9. What do you think is the future of professional football and underground football in Bangladesh? Is it going on the right track? If not, what should be improved?
Quite honestly, I haven’t seen any big changes or plans in professional football of Bangladesh that could convince me about a positive development within our football infrastructure. And the underground scenario has a lot of talented and skilled players but there is no visible or stable mechanism to filter these gems and show them a path to a professional career in football.
Toughest UG player you played against? – Rayeen Rasul Chowdhury
Favourite GK in UG to play with? – Fahd Mannan
Favourite UG tournament? – Inter DOHS Football Tournament
Favourite UG venue? – Old DOHS field
Favourite DOHS United player to play alongside with? – Abdul Wadud Khan
11. And finally, have you planned anything for DOHS United for the future? What words of advice would you have for the newcomers in UG football?
It is quite strange to hear but I decided on and implemented the team’s future plans around a year ago, in 2012. I was occupied with other stuff and could not give my full time and energy to the team. So I shifted the team’s overall responsibility to the team’s new heart — Wadud, becoming the new captain, and Sharan Khan, Sameen and Shajada Md Rony — so that they can decide on its future and continue to brighten and take further the legacy of this wondrous team. Undoubtedly I will be with the team like I always have.
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