02 November 2009

Time to sterilize Rangasala

Is anyone really shocked by the missile throwing incident at the AFC Under 19 match between Nepal and Jordan? From the Aaha Gold Cup in Pokhara to the Martyrs Memorial League matches in Kathmandu to even pick-up games in the rice fields of the Terrai – spectator disobedience has become part and parcel of Nepali football.

With football officials setting terrible examples by bullying their way into stadiums without proper accreditation or shouting obscenities throughout matches, and the police boxing themselves in to corners of the stadium where they laugh and giggle with each other like nursery school kids while having little manoeuvrability to respond quickly to incidents - even the casual fan quickly realizes that Kurukshetra is literally a stone’s throw away when attending a football match.

While admittedly many of our spectators have a lot of growing-up to do, football officials and the police must share the blame for the continued security lapses at matches. For our football officials security basically means making sure the police are present at the event, and for the cops it means having enough lumber to lathi charge fans after they misbehave. This obsolete view of security needs to change.

Along with proper sports centric security planning and training, the authorities need to also try to change the hostile culture that exists at football games. Incentives to lure women and children to matches, keeping the stadium constantly clean and ancillary entertainment options for spectators (food, prizes, cheerleaders, etc.) are some ways they can start to sterilize the atmosphere. While some may feel that this will turn football stadiums into meditation centers, I would argue that Nepali football never has had a passionate supporters culture in the first place, so I fail to see what we would lose other than a bunch of trouble makers and continued fines from the AFC .

11 comments:

  1. It was disgraceful incident. Again we get hefty fine or ban. Really, those people were idiots whether they did it on provocation or not.

    Actually I noticed during these U19 matches that our supporters tend to be hopeless quickly.They tend to rally against our own team when they are goal down or so. For god's sake its only 1 goal down but our supporters tend to leave the stadium or abuse our own players or so.

    I also think our team's performance is judged only on winning terms not on our play or such. In our media, there is no any actual tatical analysis or any detailed analysis that how our team played.

    In reality we don't have proper football culture like that in europe or other. We don't have songs or chants. Our clubs are not able to connect with community or be professional. We surely need lot of growing up to do as a supporters and club also.

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  2. Oh,, I think cheerleading idea is no no,,,,for football ground. leave it to ipl or any american sports.

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  3. @jim - agree with most of what you say. The football culture is better than what it used to be, but still fans are not well versed on the nuances of the game.

    There are a lot of small things the media could do to better educate fans and help create a strong supporters culture. I'll go into that in a future blog.

    As for cheerleaders - I was just being over the top. I too think we can survive without them.

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  4. Having survived "Rangasala Death Trap" back in 80s, I can say it out aloud that Nepali Football lacks vision, on each and every front. Lack of security had been the problem since early 80s. I recall the game between Brooklyn College and Nepal, when there were "stone & brick rain". Police men on duty would just sit and watch the game instead of watching out for the trouble makers. That persists even today.

    A few years back, I was home after many years during A division league and I didn't want to miss the chance to catch a game or two. So, I went to the game with a lady friend of mine. The comments and actions I and my friend had to hear and bear were awful. We left the game halfway through with a decision not to step in to rangasala ever again.

    As for the progress of Nepali football, lack of domestic league is a reason enough. Nepal needs a National League, not just a KTM based league.

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  5. A national league might be too ambitious at this time because of the political and logistical situation in the country. Certainly a lack of a regular league as wounded Nepali football, but that is no scapegoat for the youth team results. If U16 players are playing in the league, then I would question their age to begin with.

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  6. It looks like KTM-based so called football intellectuals can and will come up with multiple reasons not to create a National league. May be its due to the fact that KTM based clubs have yet to show any measurable achievements. Their mind is pretty much set that KTM is the world, mentality.

    I am not saying that a ride to a National League will be smooth but after so many years of so called "KTM based A League", don't you think it is time that something needs to be done? Sahara has proved it that it can be done. Mind you they are the one who produced Anil Gurung, the highest paid Nepali Footballer.

    Yes there are fundamental issues that need to be addressed but it is time that everyone involved in Nepali football should stop coming up with excuses. If one can't envisioned a National League now, there won't be such a league for next ten years. My biggest problem with it is, that I have yet to hear about it from the governing football body, ANFA.

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  7. Thanks for your feedback - I think the National League debate is interesting. As someone who is NOT from Kathmandu (my home district is Gulmi and I run a football project in Biratnagar www.morangfootball.com) I would love to see a National League. I just do not see it being viable now and perhaps I'll be better served to write a article about it. Stay tuned!

    Sahara Club is doing some great things, hats off to them. I am very good friends with officials at that club and the fact of the matter is they have shunned at the chance to participate in the Martyrs League, while other clubs like Birgunj and Koilapani (Nawalparasi) are now in the "B" division. From what I have heard they actually have made a strategic decision where they plan to participate in the League only when it is financially viable to them. Right now they are content with running the Aaha Gold Cup and developing their academy and club facilities.

    I certainly think ANFA could do more by creating regional leagues - say 1 in Kathmandu, 1 in Pokhara and 1 in the East (Sunsari, Morang, Jhapa). With the winners playing in a playoff to decide the national champion. I think that might be the direction ANFA is heading after the recent elections, but the regional leagues will be "B" Division and the teams will be promoted to the current "A" division.

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  8. There is no reason to be defensive on your part by addressing your background and association with morongfootball.com. I was not targeting you, nor was I trying to offend you in anyway. My point was that football intellectuals from KTM valley got their mind set at valley centric ideologies, pretty much similar to what we have seen from the previous govts, going back to the panchayat era.

    What you are suggesting (or ANFA), is basically a division system, close to like what they have in USA in all sports. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you were against this idea a few years back.

    Anyways, my point is, ANFA should at least come up with a vision/plan now so that in few years time, there will be something close to a National League. Be it a conference/division system or a full fledged National League. I am up for anything, as long as there is some sort of decentralization.

    As for Sahara deciding what they wanted to do is fine by me. But, why would they be asked to join C or B division, where as departmental clubs can get in to A division with out playing in any other divisions?

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  9. APF given direct entry to "A" division was outrageous, and I still have not forgiven ANFA or the drunk club Presidents who allowed it. They were actually fed alcohol right before the vote!

    I had no issues with Police and Army as historically they competed in all the big tournaments and had earned their stripes. it was logical to bring them into the league set-up.

    I do not mind a divisional system, I just do not like how ANFA did it during the days of the Coca-Cola "National League" where it was the top 6 clubs from Kathmandu and the winners of the Eastern and Western zone qualifying. It failed to give equal weight to all the regions and the playing formats were differnet. KTM clubs advanced based on how they did in the league and non-Valley clubs advanced through a knockout tournament. That is like Italian clubs going into the Champions League by their league rankings and one English club entering based on winning the FA Cup.

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  10. Problem with your idea (well ANFA's as well) is the fact that non-valley clubs will have a tough time attracting sponsors and players, thus leading it to a financial problem.

    Valley based clubs need to travel, (Pokhara, Nepalganj, Dharan or Biratnagar) and the local club should be allowed to keep the gate money so that they could support themselves as well as be able to field good players.

    We can go on and on and on about this issue but lets face it until the prez of ANFA decides to do something about it, nothing will ever be done.

    I wish you all the best on what you are trying to achieve in Nepali football. Keep up the good work.

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