31 August 2009

Eastern cadets impress

I was highly impressed with the twenty four under 12 boys training at the Eastern ANFA Technical Center. The technical ability, confidence and flair with which they played was outstanding.

The encouraging news is that these 24 boys were not even the first choices for ANFA. The best of this year's under 12 batch are training at the Kathmandu Academy with the leftovers going to the two Technical Centers in Butwal and Dharan.

Lots of credit needs to be given to senior ANFA coach Shiva Bhakta Joshi who was in charge of selection. All the boys seem to be there on merit and look to fit the age bar.

While I am technically at odds with the practice of a national under 12 academy, it is still nice to see that the country has some very talented youth players.

29 August 2009

ANFA Technical Center - Dharan

When I was out East, I had a chance to visit the Eastern ANFA Technical Center in Dharan. While the construction of the Technical Center had major hiccups and rightfully came under severe criticism for its poorly accessible location and shoddy design, the management team in Sunsari have done a solid job of reworking a structure that was destined to be white elephant.

The location of the facility is absolutely gorgeous - it is in a virgin area, right below lush green hills. It now has a beautiful full-sized field and boasts canteen and rooms for the 24 academy boys who are training there. There is a stand on the east side that can seat around 5 - 8,000 spectators. The facility could potentially be a great preseason training destination for football clubs from Kathmandu, Northeast India and West Bengal which are all a night-bus / night-train ride away from Dharan.

First Nepali to qualify for Wimbledon

Another nice article by Ayush Khadka - this time about the first Nepali to qualify for Wimbledon - Sujay Lama. To be honest, I had my doubts about the story, so I actually Googled around to verify. Sure enough, it's true!

Here is a detailed profile of Sujay Lama from the University of North Texas athletics website. He is currently the head of the tennis program there and holds a very impressive resume. It is always great to learn of a Nepali sporting success story like the one of Lama jee.

28 August 2009

Martial Arts Games disaster

Nepal did miserably at the 1st Asian Martial Arts Games. In arguably our strongest sports we managed a meager bronze medal in Wushu and that was only because there were just three participants in the weight category.

What is most troubling is the fact that our peers Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bhutan were all able to better our athletes, most of them winning medals in Taekwondo, traditionally Nepal's goldmine in international sport.

At the 8th SAF Games (1999) Nepal won 28 gold medals in Karate and Taekwondo alone. At the 10th SAF Games (2006) the number plummeted to 4 gold medals in the two disciplines. Why the drastic drop-off? I'm not the authority on the issue, but from what I have learned, in 1999 Nepal was the only country in the South Asian region supporting the martial arts disciplines. When martial arts became a part of the SAF Games our regional rivals also started funding the contact sports. They were not only quickly able to catch-up with us, but are now on pace to leave us in the dust.

25 August 2009

Marathon man

I'm back home after a two weeks break, so expect the blog to heat-up again.

Here is a link to a great article by Bikash Sangraula in the Republica on arguably Nepal's top professional athlete of the last century - Baikuntha Manandhar.

18 August 2009

Football in Eastern Nepal

I just got back to Kathmandu from my annual football tour of Eastern Nepal. Soccer junkies trapped in Kathmandu Valley should really take a pilgrimage to Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa districts and see the grand potential of Nepali football. Those three districts alone provide around half of the players in the Martyrs Memorial League "A" Division. There are scores of football fields there and even the smallest tournaments attract hundreds of spectators.

ANFA recently built a Technical Center in Dharan, Sunsari. The top twenty four boys under the age of twelve from across the nine football playing districts in the East are training at the academy there. I'll be posting more on all these topics in the coming days.

08 August 2009

Can sports learn from the Gurkhas and Sherpas?

I'm off to eastern Nepal for the next two weeks. As a result I doubt I'll be updating the blog until late August. Until then I leave you with a quote I once came across in a foreign sports magazine:
"For a country (Nepal) that produces the greatest warriors (Gurkhas) and best mountain climbers (Sherpas) in the world, developing world class athletes should be relatively simple."

04 August 2009

What's wrong with Nepali sports (Chapter 2)

I just bookmarked four articles in today's papers for potential blog posts. Unfortunately all of them highlight the mess that is Nepali sports:

Judo - the president of the Nepal Judo Association manhandled because of comments he made to the media. Unbelievable!

Asian Martial Arts Games - Nepal continues to falter at the event. Nepal is guaranteed a Bronze in Wushu because there are only three competitors in one of the weight categories. Unbelievable!

General
- the highly political Sports Minister preaching on not mixing sports and politics at an event organized by a Maoist backed sports association. Unbelievable!

Football - a reactionary football players association formed claiming that All Nepal Football Players Association was formed secretly. This one is actually - Believable!

03 August 2009

Can Jesus save Nepali sports?

The recently concluded AIA Tennis Tournament in Kathmandu was organized by a proselytizing group Atheles in Action. Going off of the information on the organization's official website their goal is to spread the word of Jesus Christ by using the popularity of sport as a vehicle.

For those who contend that only prayers can save Nepali sports, are these the prayers Nepali sports desperately needs? Have Bouddha and Pashupatinath failed our athletes? Certainly Jesus has been very kind to Kaka (pictured) these days :)

Update: Check out this video of a Christian Mass Healing function at Dasharath Rangasala. Hopefully Nepali sports will be healed too!

02 August 2009

Asian Martial Arts Games

Eighteen Nepali athletes are participating in the 1st Asian Martial Arts Games. Seeing that Nepal historically bags two or three medals at the Asian Games - we should expect similar numbers at this event.

Here is a link to the competition's official website.