02 July 2014

After disastrous World Cup, how does Asian football turn things around?

Photo: AFC Facebook page
In what many are calling the most memorable FIFA World Cup in recent memory, the performances of Asian teams at Brazil 2014 were anything but.

Non-European regions achieved unprecedented success in Brazil. Five South American teams reached the knockout rounds of the tournament, while three North American and two African nations also advanced to the Round of 16.

It seems Asia lost its invitation to the party. The accumulated tally of the Asian sides was a miserable zero wins, three draws and nine defeats. Furthermore, some of the performances like Japan-Colombia, South Korea-Algeria and Australia-Spain were downright dreadful for nations that have plenty of World Cup pedigree.

21 June 2014

Golden Rule invalid in life and sports business

Wonder why I do not wish anyone a happy birthday? The Golden Rule told me not to.

I am not big on birthdays. Never liked them, hardly ever celebrate them. As a minimalist I don’t like presents. Usually they only add clutter to my life and closet. Similarly cake only adds inches to my already burgeoning waistline.

For me birthdays are just another day. If I want to go to a special event or a nice restaurant I just go. If I need something, I just buy it. I don’t need to wait until the day of my birth to do those things.

13 May 2014

Hindi website a waste for global sports brands

Perhaps due to the buzz generated by the IPL cricket competition, it seems global sports brands are falling over themselves to tap into the Indian market these days. No longer is India only about Bollywood and BPOs, bats and balls are also making great headway in the country.

Just the other day I was reading an article in which a prominent owner of a sports club talked about how he wants his team to make inroads into the lucrative Indian market. One idea he floated was his club potentially launching a Hindi language website to lure Indian fans.

Whether the Hindi language website plan was serious or just a convenient example that popped out of his mouth during the interview is not clear. Either way, the idea is a total waste of time and resources, and goes to highlight the importance of really understanding a market before attempting to conquer it.

11 March 2014

Management decisions that led to Machhindra’s success

Monitoring news media headlines and social media posts, NMB Bank Machhindra FC’s (MFC) spectacular run in the RedBull League, going unbeaten in its last twelve games and winning all five Super-Six matches including back-to-back-to-back dramatic victories against Three Star, Manang Marsyangdi and Nepal Police Club, was one of the big stories of this year’s tournament.

Along with high acclaim for Machhindra’s Swedish head coach, Johan Kalin and a gritty squad that did not include a single national team player and consisted of only two foreigners, there was also quite a bit of praise heaped on MFC’s management for the team’s success.

As someone inside Machhindra’s management team, I’d like to share a few of the key management decisions that helped catapult MFC, a club with relatively limited resources, into 2nd position in the RedBull League and be dubbed in some quarters as the “People’s champion of Nepal”.

16 December 2013

Club football requires common sense reforms

Poor policies leading to poor crowds at Dasharath Rangashala
(This article originally appeared in Republica)

Nepal´s top-level football clubs have to sign a minimum of 16 players in April, but the league does not start until late December. Most teams play matches for only around 5 months in a calendar year, but are required to pay players for 12 months worth of service. The dates, formats and participants of important tournaments are anyone´s guess and usually only revealed at the last hour.

Such poor planning and coordination between the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) and clubs has left Nepali club football on the brink.

Nepal´s oldest club New Road Team (NRT) has called it quits on the ´A´ Division this year. Another historic club, Rani Pokhari Corner Team (RCT), may follow suit and has already decided not to participate in the ongoing Ncell Cup, the richest domestic cup tournament. Whispers at Nepal´s national stadium, Dasharath Rangashala, suggest that several other prominent clubs are also contemplating their footballing future.