Mahmuda Akhter: Yes, she can!
The recently ended journey of Bangladesh U-16 Women’s team in the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship in Thailand may not have given many things to cherish as the team was eliminated from the group stage with three defeats from three matches, but there were certainly some inspirational performances that can make the nation dream of a brighter future. One of the standout performers who made Bangladesh believe that they are on the right track was goalkeeper Mahmuda Akhter.
After being benched as the second choice goalkeeper in the first match where Bangladesh conceded a whopping 9 goals against the North Korea side, Mahmuda Akhter startedthe the second in the starting XI and made some eye-catching saves. Her performance in that match also secured her a starting place in the final match of group B. Mahmuda, who was used as a substitute goalkeeper in the match against North Korea, made her opportunity count in every way she could by her sensational performances in the matches against Japan and Australia.
The 14-year-old goalie of Bangladesh U-16 women’s team displayed some astonishing performances with the gloves that restricted mighty Japan to only three goals. Following that performance, Mahmuda’s heroics almost saw Bangladesh pull-off a historic win with 10 players on field against the Australian side. Bangladesh was already 1-0 down when skipper Krishna Rani got her marching order. However, Bangladesh fought back to take a 1-2 lead. Although Bangladesh team performed at their full stretch, the 1 player deficit seemed too much in the end and the match ended 3-2 in favor of the Aussies.
Mahmuda Akhter was arguably the top performer for Bangladesh in the tournament in Thailand. Her first full start at the tournament came in the second match of group B against Japan. After the demoralising defeat against North Korea, the match against Japan saw Mahmuda make some delightful saves throughout the second half. Mahmuda’s inspiring performance also gave a huge boost to the team’s morale which continued in the final match against Australia.
Hailing from Mymensingh, Mahmuda Akhter comes from a family of farmers and has 5 siblings. She is a student of Kolsindur High School and College. Mahmuda wants to keep performing to her level-best to make it to the Bangladesh national women’s football team. In her pursuit of a national team berth, Mahmuda looks up to her idol Iker Casillas of Spain to learn and get inspired.
In the game where “foot” is the most highlighted part, whether Mahmuda’s hands can lift the nation higher and keep the goalpost safe for the Bangladesh team is a question which remains to be answered. For now, the glimpses of her sparkling performances can surely make the nation hope that the answer will be “Yes, she can”.