Boali Young Sporting Club is a prestigious organization in Gaibandha’s Boali union. Formerly known as Boali Association Club, it was established in 1960 by Late Sultan Ali, elder brother of current President Md. Nawsher Alam.
“Renowned for its sporting activity, the club renewed its identity in the locality around 2008 when the current committee took over with a plan to make the club a hub of social development,” says organizational secretary Firoz Kabir.
“Besides sports, we now organize awareness campaigns against drug abuse, early marriage, gambling etc. We are vigilant about social ills.”
“So far, we’ve been able to stop more than 10 early marriages here in Boali. Now, people don’t dare arrange early marriages. We also provide financial help to poor students. We have been trying to curb domestic violence against women for some time now.”
When Boali Young Sporting Club was asked to work as a civil society organization for the British Council’s Platforms for Dialogue (P4D) project which they gladly accepted. P4D is a European Union-funded project in partnership with the Cabinet Division which is working to improve good governance and engage civil society organisations and citizens in government accountability mechanisms.
After the arrival of the British Council, we have incorporated 15 girls and 2 physically challenged people – a boy and a girl – as our general members who have worked in the social action projects (SAPs) with great enthusiasm. The three SAPs taken up by Boali Young Sporting Club are corruption in social safety net programme, complaint mechanism and student dropout.
Md. Enamul Haque led the SAP on complaint mechanism, which had the biggest impact on local people, he says. “The villagers here did not know what Grievance Redress System (GRS) is and how to submit a complaint if they are deprived of any government service they are entitled to.”
“We met with the union council, local elites and the people. We made them aware of GRS. We organized campaigns at six high schools where we taught the students what GRS is and how to submit complaints through the government’s website and how to submit a written complaint at the union council.”
“Finally, we installed complaint boxes at the six high schools and one at the union council along with seven-member committees for each box authorized to open the box and deal with the complaints transparently. Then we organized two follow up meetings to evaluate the progress.”
Abdul Montakin Jewel, who led the project on corruption said his group raised awareness among citizens and service providers to promote transparency and accountability at government offices.
“We mainly worked with the Right to Information (RTI) tool and installed a citizens’ charter at the Boali union council,” says Jewel.
“Before our work, people didn’t even know that they could get the birth registration certificate of a newborn for free for up to 45 days. But now, people are aware of their rights and they know that the UP and other government offices are bound to serve them as the citizen’s charter says.”
Md. Hasibur Rahman Limon, leader of the project on dropouts, says, “Our goal was to raise awareness throughout the whole union but we specifically focused on Khamar Boali Government Primary school where we received a list of 25 irregular students.”
“We sat with the teachers, the school management committee, and the guardians and even went door to door to bring back the dropouts. Of the 25 students, 15 are now regular. It was possible because we addressed specific issues behind student dropout like lack of motivation, teachers’ irresponsibility, non-functional school committee, poverty etc.”
The number of total beneficiaries of Boali Young Sporting Club would easily cross 2,000 where P4D has also played a big part. The members hope that this number will multiply in the years to come.