Saturday, January 20, 2024

Uganda Day 1: Masjid Abu Bakr Siddique

Never wait for the opportunity to serve. You have to grab and grasp your chance as it will seldom ever land in your lap. 

So, it was a long day with a 4.30 am start. We barely slept three hours after arrival in Entebbe and checking in. By 5 we were on the road and after stopping for Fajr it was an 8 hour ride to Rwabalanga 

This is particularly significant on a personal level as Masjid Abu Bakr Siddique was built in memory of my beloved late father and it was heartwarming to see the community making excellent use of all the facilities. 

What a day so far and during our first visit to Rwabalanga we met the amazing locals and enjoyed their hospitality. 

This collaborative project with Team MC has taken years to come to fruition. 

We had a coaching session and then played girls versus boys.

A phenomenal performance from the girls saw them beat the boys 3-2 after being 2-0 down. 

The talent out here is astonishing. They were too fast, too fit, the close control, communication and vision was mesmerising. 

The girls even teed me up for the first goal of our comeback. 

Despite the abject poverty here the people are happy and content. Their gratitude is consistent and not based on the level or lack of help they get. 

If you want to get an idea then take a closer look at me holding the match ball - Yes, that’s what we played with!

Next steps in Rwabalanga are to provide more water facilities, electricity and a school. The Imam needs a bicycle for transport and this has been paid for with donations from family and friends. 

I do need funds for a wheelchair if anyone is feeling generous. 

There is a genuine need for us in the western world to engage more with such people to learn humility and gratitude on a level that cannot be taught in the classroom. 

We finished by visiting Ndemba in the Sheba District and once again enjoyed the company of a special group of people. 

#teammc #thewanderinglondoner

Sunday, August 06, 2023

Bangladesh 2023: World Cup Winners!

Bangladesh have been crowned winners of the Inner London Football League for the second time. 

An astonishing final saw the Tigers beat Nigeria 6-2 in the final. 

It was an extraordinary day for an exceptional team. 

There's something quite brilliant about participating in a World Cup, with no commercial duties, responsibilities and expectations. The squad was carefree - All we had to do was focus on matters on the field.

I took the precious little time we had before stepping into the cauldron to welcome everyone and talk through tactics. The onus of responsibility and the heightened sense of expectation was placed deliberately and firmly upon the shoulders of the sixteen man squad, of which each playing member  was capable of starting any of our games.

And did they deliver in style, setting a precedent that will become the benchmark for all future winners of this prestigious grassroots tournament. 

The early group games commenced with Bangladesh facing Nigeria and it was the past champions who drew first blood by taking a 2-0 lead into half time courtesy of Sadiq Ahmed and Ahbab Hussain.

A talented and ultra fit Nigeria turned the screw in the second half and came back strong with three goals to completely turn the game on its head. 

The introduction of Gulzar Hussain enabled the wingers to exploit the flanks and Abul Hasnath (Polash) skipped in to level the game at 3-3. More importantly, an astonishing double save from the heroic Helal Uz Zaman was critical in Bangladesh avoiding defeat. 

With a challenging first game out of the way the second group fixture against Turkiye was a smoother affair as Team Bangladesh used their on field familiarity and composure to exert their influence across the pitch. 

Ash Khan and Abdul Muquith Dipon were durable at the back and a resounding 6-1 victory was the outcome. Two goals from Hashu Miah and Polash set the ball rolling with Ahbab and Sadiq completing the win. 

The third game against tournament favourites Portugal was a tight affair. With captain Abdul Wahid instrumental Bangladesh took a comfortable two goal lead through Sadiq and Hashu before the dangerous Portuguese pulled one back. 

Stout defending from the outstanding Emranul Hoque alongside Aminur Rahman and the strong forward hold up play of Abdul-Kaium Ali were key features of the game as Bangladesh progressed to the semi finals to face World Cup holders Colombia. 

The last four encounter was a marked display of the winning temperament and camaraderie within the squad as for the first time in the tournament Bangladesh fell behind to an early goal. 

A test of character was in order but Bangladesh remained patient in possession and belief and a succession of three quick substitutions resulted in three goals. 

Wahid converted from the spot as Colombia conceded a penalty. Hashu changed the game with a crucial second and the indomitable Shiblu Miah wrapped up an impressive 3-1 win with a rasping drive. 

After a very short break it was time for the hair raising experience of the national anthems. A couple of minutes of reflection and we were all set to go.

The final was a spectacle and the greatest this competition has seen as Bangladesh romped home 6-2 against a very competent Nigerian team. 

The Super Eagles had seen off England in the semi finals on penalties and faced the Tigers in a repeat of their first group game. 

The resounding win saw Bangladesh take an outstanding 4-0 lead into the half time break courtesy of Polash, Wahid (pen), Kaium and Hashu. 

The opposition came back strong and just like the first head to head, the Eagles scored two quick fire second half goals in a minute to completely open up the final.

Bangladesh had learnt from that first encounter and Ruhul Amin (Alamin) scored a crucial fifth to add breathing space. The nippy winger sealed a historic win with a sixth.

Abdul Hamid and Hassan Abdullah came on to join Wahid as double World Cup winners. 

Bangladesh dominance during the game allowed every single squad member to be rotated throughout the final. 

Tigers captain Wahid lifted the World Cup amidst jubilant scenes as we gratefully retained the crownwe last won in 2018.

World Cup co-ordinator Nanu Miah commented, “Today we have witnessed another historic day as we bought together and used football as a spectacle to showcase the very best of our communities here in Britain. We are proud to have united our communities. Well done Bangladesh - This great event will inspire many people young and old.”

Inner London Football League Chairman Rashid Ali added, “A magnificent achievement by the two time winners and respect and all credits are reserved for the head coach, the backroom team and the players for entertaining us all with dazzling football throughout the day - You are all worthy winners.“

My personal thoughts as Head Coach are this result is right up there with the very best and it was a day where Bangladesh were brilliant, playing a mouthwatering brand of football oozing class and sophistication from start to finish.

We displayed sportsmanship, resilience and positivity throughout. This is a squad which takes community responsibility very seriously and we hope this triumph will inspire and benefit numerous people in numerous ways.

I want to thank my players and my management team for winning with style and dignity. A special mention to Berti (Abdul Basit - Northern Scout and Team Bangladesh management) who couldn't make it on the day. I hope to bring the trophy up to you to celebrate in person. 

 Thank you to the Inner London Football League and chairman Rashid Ali for having the faith to hand me leadership of this distinguished and exceptional team. There are so many outstanding and far better candidates out there so it's been an honour taking charge of such a phenomenal cluster of talented ballers. 

Through the tournament all conquering Bangladesh remained unbeaten, conceding 8 and scoring a record breaking 18 goals - Polash and Hashu were joint top scorers with four goals each.

The lads who made up the squad are rather special and steeped in the ways of selfless community service. Apart from being outstanding footballers they have spent the best part of their lives helping those in need. 

Football has transformative powers and the unique ability to bring people together and create positive change. It is a powerful tool in addressing some of society's most pressing issues and through various initiatives is making a difference in the lives of people, offering them hope, empowerment, and a path to societal reintegration.

Well done boys! 

Team Bangladesh: 

Management team: Emdad Rahman MBE (Head Coach), Muhammed Nashir (Assistant Manager) - Hassan Abdullah - Abdul Aziz - Abdul Basit - Jakir Ahmed - Abdul Hakim

Helal Uz Zaman - Abdul Hanif - Ashrafur Khan - Abdul Muquith (Dipon) - Emranul Hoque - Abdul Wahid - Gulzar Hussain - Ruhul Amin (Alamin) - Abul Hasnath (Polash) - Sadiq Ahmed - Aminur Rahman - Hashu Miah - Ahbab Hussain - Shiblu Miah - Hassan Abdullah

Saturday, July 01, 2023

Red hot Aqib steers Scintilla seconds to the top

Emdad Rahman


A blistering seven wicket haul from captain Aqib Ejaz was the overwhelming highlight of the clash as Scintilla secured first position in Division Two. 

The good form has been consistent as the second team matched the performance of the senior team to beat Shane Moss CC at Fairlop. 

After winning the toss Shane Moss went in to bat  and were simply overwhelmed as Hurricane Aqib plundered through the opposition eleven to leave the score at 87/10 by tea. 

Scintilla struggled with the bat as Yasin took six weeks in a bid to match Aqib’s breathtaking display with the ball. It was a crucial knock of 35 from Aariful Islam which steadied the ship and formed the bedrock for Scintilla to reach 88/8 after 18 overs and a victory two wickets. 

After eight games Scintilla now lead the Division 2 table by 11 points. 

Man of the match and Scintilla captain Aqib Ejaz commented, “It is the week of Eid and our best wishes to all those celebrating. The team displayed great togetherness from beginning to end.

“Our off field hard work has paid off so far but we will need to graft even harder if we want to do well in this League. There are no easy games and every single encounter will be difficult and challenging - We will give our best to rise to the challenges.”

Scintilla see off Millwall to extend Eid celebrations


In the week of the celebration of Eid Al Adha a 31 run win was enough to retain top spot for Scintilla Cricket Club. 

The latest run of games saw third placed Millwall CC visit Oakfield Playing Fields looking to take advantage of a home slip up and make up ground in the race for the Championship. 

Things are tight at the top of the table with at least four teams in the title race and Ishaq Shawn’s men didn’t let any Eid feasting and indulgence intervene in their quest for the match points. 

Scintilla won the toss and elected to bat first and a below par batting performance saw the home side bowled out for 142 after 31 overs. Emphasis would now be placed on Adil Ejaz, Hanif Kibria and Altaf Bhat to orchestrate matters on the park. 

Sajal Rahman and Mj Hasan contributed 63 runs with both delivering two thunderous double sixes and at the tail end Bilal Khan and Saad Bidiwala etched out 25 which would prove to be crucial in the outcome of the game. 

After tea the talismanic Mohit Gupta was in no charitable mood as the all rounder set the pace by dismissing openers Pushpendra, Shetty and the crucial stumping of wicket keeper Bajaj with 25 runs on the scoreboard. 

Straight after his third wicket Scintilla were dealt a major blow as Gupta retired through an injury sustained from his last ball and wicket and was replaced by Fazlur Rashid and then Aqib Ejaz who both proved flawless in the field. 

A spirited and determined team performance saw the fall of three wickets to Adnan Walayat, and one apiece from Ishaq Shawn, Saad Bidiwala, Sajal Rahman and Shamim Ali saw Scintilla home after 31 overs. 

Winning captain Ishaq Shawn is taking nothing for granted, “Our only focus is on the next game and the next game alone. Today we were below par but the strength of character of this team is special and our never say die attitude is second to none. 

“There’s still plenty of cricket left to play and there are some exceptional teams who are more than capable of putting a run together during the business end of the League campaign.”

Monday, January 23, 2023

Explore Beanibazar: Review

Emdad Rahman: The first viewing of “Explore Beanibazar” has been a resounding success as a capacity crowd flocked to watch the landmark heritage documentary.


The hour-long motion picture by journalist and film maker Foysol Mahmud saw hundreds of visitors’ flock to the Brady Arts Centre, Brick Lane to be a part of what has turned out to be a rather special and monumental occasion. 


Explore Beanibazar is the result of an individual’s passion to highlight the history, beauty, significance of this influential region of Bangladesh. 


Mahmud has painstakingly put together a great piece of film which will promote Beanibazar not only in a positive light but also serve as an invaluable resource for future generations, for natives as well as the expatriate community scattered all over the globe. 


The documentary has admittedly sparked lots of interest in heritage, history and is inspiring creative content related to Beanibazar. Young people from the diaspora community with roots in Bangladesh will take a keener interest in their customs, cultures, traditions and ancestry. 


Explore Beanibazar will help develop a sense of belonging and unity, for if we know our past, we can be confident in where we are heading. 


Heritage is invaluable, significant and hugely important to us all as human beings. It enables us to savour a golden past, enables us to glorify and enjoy in the present and then ultimately pass on to those who come after us.

Explore Beanibazar helps promote values through expression, brings worth and value to discussions, highlights our dreams and paints a vivid picture of how we have evolved throughout time.

This production sheds light on the past and through the mention of traditions and history it encourages the viewer to ask questions about the days of bygone, present and future as it helps instil a greater sense of awareness whilst stimulating thoughts and discussions on who we are and how we have come to be.

One cannot deny that our heritage is key in helping shape our view of the world as it influences the role we play within our respective communities.

Mahmud’s exceptional efforts will play a big role in encouraging communities to take a keener interest in the conservation of their rich heritage and even in Beanibazar itself, this will help with the development of uplifting neglected areas of the region as people review and reconnect with their roots.

Therefore, it is vital It is imperative that heritage and history is accredited and acknowledged in order to be enjoyed by those in the present as well as the future.

The event was a resounding success despite most of the visitors being unaccommodated due to venue capacity restrictions, meaning that the majority were unable to fit into the main viewing auditorium.


The spill over resulted in the foyer and reception area of the Brady Centre becoming full and with lots more people having to wait on the street outside. So popular was the launch that it is safe to say that a larger number of patrons visiting didn’t actually get to view Explore Beanibazar nor meet with the Director.


This should only be the beginning for this super project and I (amongst others) have made my recommendations to Foysol:


  • To further develop the film and add subtitles.
  • Organise a roadshow with Q&A session all over the UK and abroad
  • Launch an education programme in schools
  • Inspire and assist other Upazilas and regions to do the same for their diaspora


Hopefully this film will lead to more heritage projects blossoming, to raise awareness and inculcate a sense of belonging, especially for young people. 


Special guests on the night included Bangladeshi High Commissioner to the UK, Saida Muna Tasneem, Camden Mayor Nasim Ali and Speaker of Tower Hamlets Shafi Ahmed. 


Mahmud, the man behind “Explore Beanibazar” feels there is more to come. 


He said, “Heritage is beautiful and important for us all. I hope my humble efforts will spark discussions and encourage interest from not only my community, but others too.”


Beanibazar is a sub-district (Upazila) of the Sylhet District of Bangladesh. The region boasts a sizeable expatriate population, notably in the United Kingdom and United States. 


T W I T T  E R @emdad07