30 July 2009

ANFA cronies need to pipe down

I find it quite amusing outrageous that a few ANFA officials, most of them one time pawns of Geeta Rana, have been very eager to publicly take shots at their rivals and Nepal's sports establishment as a whole. They use lingo like, "opportunists" "incompetent" "politically motivated" "corrupt" "puppets" to portray the people outside their fraternity. I hope they realize that these words in fact best describes themselves.

27 July 2009

Weightlifters break national marks

The National Weightlifting Championship in Nepalgunj (great to see that a national level tournament was held outside of Kathmandu for a change) witnessed many national weightlifting marks being shattered. The event also highlighted the popularity of the sport amongst female athletes.

An international sports official once told me that if Nepal wants to win a medal in the Olympics, weightlifting was its best bet. It's an inexpensive sport for diminutive athletes and requires no infrastructure.

Update: good, but sad story about weightlifters today in the Kathmandu Post.

26 July 2009

Jeevan Ram felicitated, Sports Minister speaks

A couple of interesting stories today. Outgoing NSC member secretary Jeevan Ram Shrestha was felicitated by the national sports associations. One of the keynote speakers at the function was Ganesh Thapa who was embroiled in a bitter feud with Jeevan Ram. What this shows is despite all the shenanigans that went on in the sports sector, for the most part, there is consensus that Jeevan Ram brought a progressive agenda to the NSC.

On a related note, Minister for Youth and Sports Ganesh Nepali talked about the sports sector at a press meet in Janakpur. He is correct that sports should not be centralized in Kathmandu and that there are few Madhesis in leadership positions. It is however important to realize that sports is one of the few sectors in Nepal where there is a strong mix of ethnic groups and castes.

25 July 2009

Shambolic journalism

Today's Republica featured one of the worst researched Nepali sports article (I sent them an email about it, so there is a chance that and the online version might be has been edited if you follow the link).

In a story about Anil Gurung's two goals for Woking FC they stated that Woking was Chelsea's reserve team which is flat out wrong. Woking is an independent club in England's 6th (SIXTH!) division. Also Anil played for a second string lineup which Woking's coach dubbed "young Academy side". There was also no mention that this match was just a pre-season friendly. Thankfully the Himalayan Times did a much better job reporting the facts.

No one is trying to downplay Anil's accomplishments. His journey to England will inspire many footballers and he has created a great buzz for Nepali football. All I am saying is get the facts right!

Update: Republica's sports editor contacted me and thanked me for bringing the blunder to his attention. So being the softie I am - to the newspapers credit, I will say they have written some of the best sports feature stories lately, especially during the 5th National Games.

Golf tourism and Nepal

Great article in the Kathmandu Post by Ayush Khadka on golf tourism and Nepal. I have touched on many facets of his articles in my tourism related posts and golf related posts.

23 July 2009

Jeevan Ram gets a taste of his own medicine

Jeevan Ram Shrestha, Member Secretary of the National Sports Council, has resigned from his post due to political pressures. Shrestha stepped down before his term ended and as a parting shot said that sports should not be politicized and he should have been able to serve out his tenure. Oh the irony! This from the same guy that has constantly played the political card throughout his time in office and who called on all sports association executive committees to resign en mass after the monarchy was ousted.

Now I'm actually a little disappointed to see Shrestha leave. Unlike him - I truly do believe people should be able to serve out their full term in office. Also in Nepal's sporting context - which basically is at rock bottom - I felt he was doing a decent enough job. Now that the fringe Terai outfit TMLP control the Sports Ministry, it will be really interesting to see who fills Jeevan Ram's shoes.

22 July 2009

Embassies for sport

Foreign embassies have long supported sports in Nepal and the Korean Ambassador National Taekwondo is the latest event to receive assistance from our international guests. Many sports could benefit with a tie-up with local embassies. For example:

Archery - Korean
Boxing - Thai
Badminton - Malaysian, Danish
Basketball - Israeli
Cricket - Sri Lankan, Pakistani
Ladies Football - Norwegian, North Korean
Kabbadi - Indian
Judo, Karate - Japanese
Table Tennis, Wushu - Chinese

(Photo from Deepak Bista's website)

19 July 2009

Assist athletes before competitions, not after

Before high profile international tournaments Nepali sports bodies and corporate houses promise grand rewards for athletes who bring glory to the nation. Unfortunately, seldom are the athletes able to deliver and cash-in on the bounty.

The whole concept of huge rewards for sporting glory is flawed. You have to give athletes the tools to succeed before a sporting event - not after. It's like telling your child if they learn to read, you'll send them to school. Pretty ridiculous, no?

The Nepal government recently promised life-long social security for Asian Games and Olympic gold medalists. In fairness, it is part of a broader sports development plan which includes preparations for the SAF Games and an Sports Academy in Hetauda. However, history has repeatedly shown us that most of the allocated funds will be spent on administration and travel and not the welfare of the athletes. How then can we expect them to put on stellar performances? (Photo from Deepak Bista's website)

17 July 2009

Follow Jumanu and Santosh in the Maldives

One can follow Jumanu and Santosh's careers with Maldivian side All Youth Linkage (AYL) at www.maldivessoccer.com. Santosh scored a goal in his first match with the club, while Jumanu played the entire 90 minutes. Comments on the two new Nepali recruits by their coach can be found in this article. Here is the match recap.

14 July 2009

AFC's great boon to Nepali football: 3 +1

Santosh Shaukhala, Jumanu Rai and Anil Gurung all recently received lucrative contract offers from South Asian clubs. So why are regional outfits suddenly interested in Nepali players? You can thank the new AFC 3+1 rule.

The 3+1 rule is the foreign player quota set by the AFC for teams competing in their tournaments. Each club can have three foreign players and an additional player that is Asian. Most Asian countries have adopted the 3+1 rule to their domestic leagues as well (and hopefully Nepal will too), thus instead of signing half-a-dozen Nigerians and Brazilians, clubs will now be motivated to also look for quality Asian talents.

Quickly browsing through last season's Indian League quad lists, it looks as though there was not even a single non-Indian Asian playing in the I-League. That means this year 14 slots will be available for Asian players and East Bengal have already signed a Lebanese player while Shillong Lajong FC have extended an offer to our very own Anil Gurung. It is highly likely that a few more offers will come the way of top Nepali talents in the coming months. You can read my previous post to understand why all of this is great for Nepali football.

12 July 2009

Politics comes to the aid of sport

Two positive signs this week from the political front. First, President Ram Baran Yadav's in his Policies and Programmes of the Government of Nepal speech laid out the government's sport policy. While the strategy is pretty much a rehash of NSC's plan, it is encouraging to us sports fans that it was mentioned.

Second, PM Madhav Kumar Nepal promised Rs. 5 Lakhs for the medical costs of former national team volleyball player Dinesh Baniya's kidney operation. Along with the PM's promise a charity match between the who's who of politics and entertainment was organized to raise additional funds. It was truly a sight to behold watching Prachanda, Ram Chandra Poudel and Jhala Nath Khanal running around in shorts -playing football. An amazing accomplishment to pull such an event together by the organizers - the Television Artists Forum. (Photo: with permission from Sanjeeb Shilpakar)

09 July 2009

Golf tour good model for other sports

The Surya Nepal Golf Tour will have ten events this season. As Kathmandu pretty much has a monopoly on the golf facilities in Nepal, the majority of events will be held in the capital though organizers have said they will take the Tour outside the Valley on a few occasions to try to spread the game across the country. The competing golfers will be ranked based on their performances through the course of the season and receive prize money accordingly.

National Tour, Calendar, Rankings and Prize Money - sounds like a good formula for developing a sport. Maybe other sports might want to emulate? This is exactly the sort of things the likes of the Badminton, Table Tennis and Archery association should be doing. And unlike golf they have less challenges in terms of facilities and attracting an audience.

05 July 2009

What's wrong with Nepali sports (Chapter 1)

I find myself writing so much about the follies of Nepali sports that I have decided instead of cluttering this blog with constant negativity I will just compile all the bloopers in one post and publish it periodically. Here we go:

Football (Uniforms & Logos)

The Nepatop Kheladi Cup featured arguably Nepal's top four football sides - NRT, Three Star, Army and Police. Not one of the teams wore uniforms in their club's primary colors and Army and Three Star did not even bother to paste their badge onto their kits.

Swimming

The darling of the National Games, Karishma Karki, who garnered a record 12 gold medals will not be participating in the FINA swimming world championships because her school exams conflict with the dates of the event.

Swimming Part 2 (Media)
Many of the media outlets noted the four Nepali swimmers headed to the FINA championships but completely failed to mention that Karki was not participating. How can the media possibly ignore the fact that Nepal's record breaking swimmer, who is only a few months removed from her amazing feat, will not be participating in the biggest swimming event of the year?

Asian Youth Games (Basketball)
Nepal's girls basketball team lost to Japan 34-0 in a 3 on 3 basketball match at the Asian Youth Games. On a positive note, they came back the next day to defeat Kuwait for their first ever victory. But 34 - 0! that's just embarrassing.

Asian Youth Games Part 2 (Shooting)

Nepal's shooting team were shocked to learn that Thai Airways would not let them carry their guns to Singapore. How rude of Thai Airways - putting passenger safety ahead of the Asian Youth Games! Despite the fact that they were disarmed, the national shooters, I presume with borrowed equipment, were able to put-up some decent marks. Perhaps the borrowed equipment was better than their own guns? If that's the case - thank you Thai Airways!

03 July 2009

Kids taking the swing

Love this photo. Great to see kids getting exposed to sports. Is a future Nepali Vijay Singh in the picture? Incidentally, Nepal Golf Association and Surya Nepal are teaming-up and starting a youth development program.

01 July 2009

Rana challenges Thapa

Geeta Rana has comeback from the wilderness to fight against Nepal's football institution - Ganesh Thapa. I was definitely taken aback by the news as Rana has been away from football for the last few years after losing a bitter power-play against Thapa at the start of the millennium.

Having a competitive race for the ANFA Presidency is a good thing. It will create debate and hopefully we will get to hear different visions for the development of football in Nepal. Rana has announced her goals. Now, I look forward to learning of Thapa's strategies.