With the start of UCL this month, the football fever has peaked among the fans and followers. All the top leagues are running in full swing now. The managers and players are concerned about their respective tactics and strategy only.
But the crazy fantasy football managers are analysing every club's strategy and player's potential. Though this is a widely popular game, it was not well recognised in our country even a few years back.
But the scenario is changing now. To build a strong community of passionate sports lovers, platforms like 'Play Fantasy 365' are working restlessly. To justify their effort, this year, United Commercial Bank sponsored a classic league on that platform with a total of Tk 10 lacs.
In a recent conversation with the writer, Arifin Satej, the CEO and co-founder of Play Fantasy 365, shared his journey, vision, and other things regarding the E-sports sector of our country.
It started with creating a Facebook group named 'Fantasy Football Players of Bangladesh- FFPB' in 2011.
Arifin Satej was one of the pioneer members of that group who got tremendous support from other co-founders, Ehsan Tuhin, Jahid Hassan, and Quamrul Hassan.
At that time, the number of fantasy football managers was less. But with the flow of time, many passionate football lovers gathered in that group. At present, that group has over 36 thousand members.
"The number could have been easily higher. But for us, quality always stands higher than quantity. Even for the use of the slightest slang or unwanted behaviour, we have removed many members from the group. If required, the number will go down. But I want to be proud of the smart people who understand the principle of our group," Arifin explained.
But to connect more people, the 'PlayFantasy365' page was created in 2014 by Jahid Hassan. They expanded the horizon to bring all fantasy football and fantasy cricket maniacs under the same roof to provide the latest news, views, and discussions led by Ehsan Tuhin, a famous football analyst of Bangladesh. 1.35 lacs followers on that active page indicate how crazy an e-sports-loving community we are.
Dribbling past obstacles
Reaching more people didn't fulfil the purpose. Instead, Arefin Satej and his group wanted to do better and smarter. Eventually, the website 'PlayFantasy365' was developed last year.
Two major reasons triggered the work well in this case. The first was to reduce the stressful manual calculating points in the leagues.
From the beginning, FFPB arranges leagues like classic, head-to-head, inter-university, etc. To determine the winners and distribute the prizes, some volunteer group members calculated the points of every individual.
"Often, they used to get fatigued from this load of work. We have experienced tremendous effort from Mashnoon, Sakif, and Mamun Billah to perform those manual tasks, but their personal lives were getting hampered. So the website came into play where the backend application calculates everything," the CEO shared.
He explained the second cause: "We always wanted to arrange our leagues in a big banner for the intellectual persons of the group. To do so, we needed sponsors with standard platforms. But showing the number of members in a Facebook group or page was not much impressive to the sponsors."
"So we decided to create this platform where we will have registered members. This way, the whole thing gets good authenticity."
Finding the net
Ultimately their purpose got served. The activities and standards of the group came to the notice of some people from the UCB bank. Eventually, the two sides reached an agreement, and just before the start of this Premier League season, the big announcement came.
UCB higher management took visionary steps here to launch the campaign within a short period. People having a UCB bank account and registered members of 'PlayFantasy365' can play the classic league and will be eligible for weekly prizes worth Tk 10.5 thousand. Previously they had sponsors like Daraz, Nagad, Indigo, etc. But before this season, such a big sponsorship never knocked on their door.
Being a senior engineer at 'du,' a telecommunications company in Dubai, Arifin is surprisingly passionate about football even in his early forties. His expertise in multitasking helps him to keep a balance between his personal life, professional activities, and passion for football.
Eyes on the title!
When asked about his vision, he explained, "I want to eradicate the betting and gambling activities in the sports sector from our country. Unlike gambling, doing good in fantasy requires immense analysis and knowledge. If we can consistently provide a good number of prizes to the winners, I believe many people will shift from betting sites to this platform."
There is another great aim of the group. That is to entertain the young generation productively.
"If our efforts can make the young people divert their addiction from some unethical websites and violent action games to a smart game like football, then that would be the greatest achievement for us," he mentioned.
"And we are getting wonderful feedback. I am proud to say that our website and technological works were developed and maintained by our young group members. Young representatives like Shayekh Zubayer, Faisal Amin, Rubayet Islam, and Rafsan Jani are putting in a great effort for the community," Arifin added.
Winner receiving award.
The fraternity of this community is strong. They had a grand get-together this year where the prizes for the 2021-22 season were distributed in the presence of national football players Topu Barman and Tariq Kazi. They plan to arrange such meetings bi-yearly in different universities in the country.
Talking about the future scheme of the platform, Arifin said, "We want to make PlayFantasy365 a well-recognised productive brand. India has a similar e-sports platform, 'Dream11,' which can sponsor IPL now. Given the opportunity, we want to take our community to a greater level than even that one. Moreover, through our platform, we want to promote our national football & cricket in the future."
Imagine having a fantasy game of our premier league for which people gather information about our national players and follow different club games! With the exponential growth of platforms like PlayFantasy365, that dream is not absurd anymore.