27 December 2010

Referee course

I attended an Introductory Referee Course for youths of Morang District over Christmas weekend. It was exciting to observe the enthusiasm of the young participants and wonderful to see that youths as young as 16 were being given an opportunity by Biratnagar Sports Club (formerly known as Morang Football Project) to learn about refereeing.

I was equally surprised to learn how little knowledge they had of basic football rules before they started the course. One of the older participants had been refereeing for over 5 years at district level and did not even know the offsides rule properly, for example. Unfortunately, most Nepali sports associations solely focus on participating in international tournaments and pay little if any attention to development. Courses - be it refereeing, coaching or administration are as rare as the one horned rhino. It's no wonder why virtually every football match in Nepal spirals out of control. Fans, players, coaches, administrators and sometimes even the referees just don't know the rules. Hopefully more courses like this will help them get up to speed.




17 December 2010

On second thought...

I wrote a very nasty post titled "Our own worst enemy" blasting Nepali athletes and officials for their overly negative mindset. Realizing the hypocrisy in publishing such an article, I've since deleted it. Not only should our sportsmen have a positive approach, so should fans and bloggers.

27 November 2010

Asian Games wrap

Now that I have your attention, a few quick hitters on the Asian Games:
  • Amazing opening and closing ceremonies.
  • China's dominance must be really deflating to the other competitive nations. You're basically playing for a silver medal in 50% of the events.
  • Maybe adding Australia to the Asian Games will help make things more competitive.
  • While Nepal's overall performance was disastrous, we need to salute the many athletes who achieved national records and personal bests.
  • Defeating a Thai Boxer is impressive.
  • Lots of reasons for Nepal's feeble performance, the greatest being a lack of knowledge or curiosity about sports development amongst our sports leaders.
  • Calling Nepal a Martial Arts nation is like calling Hungary a football nation.
  • What made Nepal's performance in the Martial Arts so pathetic was that Pakistan, India and Afghanistan all were able to garner at least a  Silver Medal.
  • Nepali Cricket choking act continues.
  • Media coverage by the Nepali press was quite good. Ajay Phuyal was on fire.

10 November 2010

Asian Games

The Asian Games take place November 12 to the 27th in Guangzhou, China. This is perhaps the best litmus test for Nepali athletes as the Olympics are too exclusive and the South Asian Games too erratic. In total a 140 Nepali athletes are competing in 20 different sports.

Beyond the martial arts and possibly cricket, winning a medal will be a herculean task for Nepali athletes. Even in the martial arts we are no longer one of the top sides in our own region. Nonetheless it is good to see many of our athletes taking a positive approach to the games, understanding the value of achieving personal bests and not obsessing over medals.

I was at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand and it was both thrilling and enlightening. It was my first time watching Nepali athletes in something other than football. I experienced Nepal's formidable performances in the martial arts including Sabita Rajbhandari's historic silver medal triumph in Taekwondo. On the flip-side, for the first of what would be many times to come, I witnessed the rotten politics/mismanagement of Nepali sports when visiting many of our other teams. In essence the Asian Games bring out the best and worst in Nepali sport. It gives us champions and leaves us with controversies.

Here is a link to the Asian Games official website.

27 October 2010

ANFA needs to develop coaches

"How to develop Nepali football?" That is easily the most common question I get asked when I meet football fans in Nepal. The answer is actually a simple one: develop coaches!

"That’s it?"

Well no, that’s not "it", but that is the basic starting point for developing a strong football program. Great facilities, foreign training, Adidas Predator boots, high salary, 1 kilo of Khashi ko Masu a day, Pulsar motorbikes don’t create great players, qualified coaches do.

Read the full article at GaolNepal.com

14 October 2010

Tika and Ticket?

In places like England and USA some of the biggest sports events are held on holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Boxing Day and Easter. In Nepal however holidays basically mean a shutdown of any sporting activities. As an example that is why the football league is always held after Dashain and Tihar as sports officials are reluctant to organize events during their holidays.

Where others see a problem, I see opportunity! Holidays are when everyone is free from work/school and together with the family. Wouldn't that be the perfect moment to organize a big sporting event? Call it "Tika and Ticket". It would be a great chance for families to bond and enjoy the passion of sport. It would also provide an opportunity for people returning home to reconnect with their local club, be it a Pokhareli watching Sahara Club or a Jhapali viewing Munal Club. Slowly, a tradition will develop where people know that a given holiday is when xyz sports event is played.

The negatoids will have their excuses, after all making excuses is the biggest sporting tradition in Nepal. Players and officials will also be at home, people will be busy with pooja, etc, etc. Certainly there needs to be some dedication to pull it off. A sportsman needs to decide what is more important for them, the love they get in their village or the glory of playing in front of 30,000 fans. Unfortunately Nepal's sports culture is still at a state where commitment to a sport comes down the pecking order after family, pooja, school and disco-dance bar. Perhaps having sports events during holidays could help slowly change that attitude.
 
 Happy Bijaya Dashami!

10 October 2010

Mascots

Below is a photo of the mascots of the 5th National Games. I'm pretty amazed that they had multiple mascot costumes made as they can be quite expensive.

It would be great if all Nepali football clubs had their own mascots, but maybe that is too ambitious for clubs who can't even be bothered to play in their own colors.

Photo taken from the MOYS website

27 September 2010

Hardball in the Himalayas

As a Nepali-American I've always halfheartedly had the idea of developing the "Great American Pastime" - baseball, in Nepal.

Well, a student from Poole Gakuin University in Osaka, Japan - Kyohei Fujioka, has been doing just that for the last few years, mostly at secondary schools in Pokhara. There is now even an All Nepal Baseball Association and a Nepali team will be competing in the South Asian Baseball Championships in Pakistan in December.


22 September 2010

Nepal Sports Photo

After a few months in the wilderness, Udipt Singh Chhetry, sports photographer for The Himalayan Times, is again updating his fantastic website - Nepal Sports Photo.  As some may recall, Udipt was fuming at people using his watermarked photos, including some prominent newspapers.

I'm a huge fan of Udipt's as he is one of the few sports photographers that understand the art of photo journalism. Glad to have him back.
 

15 September 2010

Bansbari Club "Face-hooked"

Bansbari Club, the newly promoted "A" Division side, and my local club, has a case of "Facebook-itis". They can't seem to stop posting on their Facebook page these days. It's great to see another Nepali club using social media to promote themselves.

14 September 2010

Para-Athlete award

My favorite Bajaj Pulsar Sports Award organized by NSJF is the Para-Athlete award. Glad to see one sports related body in Nepal thinking outside the box.

This year Arjun Kumar Sapkota, who lost one hand in an accident, won the award for his accomplishments in differently-abled table tennis.
 
Photo taken from Nagarik News

11 September 2010

Where's the dedication?

A few weeks back I called a promising youth footballer who has been training daily at a local academy since the age of twelve to see how he fared in the ANFA-HISSAN Program trials for the top SLC passed youth soccer players in the country. I was disappointed to learn that he had not tried-out for it as he never got news of the trials (Did he not read the newspapers? Every single one had an article about the ANFA-HISSAN Program).

Because I was a admirer of the player, I told him that I could speak with a few ANFA coaches and have them look at him privately to see if he was up to the mark. The kid however told me that he was a bit busy these days with "other commitments" and that he'll try-out some other time. What?! The kid's goal since the day I met him was to become a professional footballer, but with opportunity sitting right before him he was not even bothered to grab it.

This had me thinking - does Nepali sport lack dedication? Let's not confuse dedication and sacrifice. Yes, almost all Nepali sportsmen make great sacrifices - be it sacrificing time, money, education and family to pursue their passion in a sector where there is little reward and tons of struggle. But after that sacrifice, do they have the dedication to reach the top? To do whatever it takes to be the best they can at their sport.

By dedication I don't mean just working hard, but going over and beyond what others are doing. Practicing 1,000 hours to improve your sprinting speed by 1,000th of a second.
  • A player waking up everyday at 5 in the morning and shooting 500 jump shots with his weaker hand to improve his overall game
  • A coach reading Arsene Wenger's (coach of Arsenal FC) biography to just get one extra  insight into top class coaching
  • An official spending hours on sports websites to find that cutting edge idea to develop his sport
I have met countless Nepali sports persons - be it players, coaches and officials, and sometimes I really wonder where the dedication is. Players who don't even know their biceps from their triceps. Senior coaches who have not picked-up a coaching manual in 10 years. Officials who don't even have an email account or know how to use a computer.

Maybe it's not so much the lack of money, facilities, and  foreign training that is hindering Nepali sports, but a lack of dedication.

09 September 2010

Corinthians

I dream of a day when a Nepali club could put together such footage. What would a comparable Three Star or NRT video look like?

PS - Corinthians is the biggest club in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

28 August 2010

Nepal’s dumbest sports official?

Note: I have changed some scenarios and details to protect the identity of the accused (e.g. when I write “his sport” it could mean his club, organization, district, event, etc.)

I went to meet Nepal’s dumbest sports official (NDSO) the other day. I didn’t know he was NDSO until this meeting with him. I had briefly met him in the past, but never long enough to really formulate an opinion on him. After this meeting however, I am convinced the guy must truly be NDSO. Here’s the story:

I called NDSO to arrange a meeting as I wanted to discuss a few issues with him regarding his sport. NDSO was thrilled to receive my call and told me that he was anxious to meet as there were lots of pressing things he needed to discuss with me. I was therefore a bit dumbfounded that NDSO was not at his office at the time we had agreed to see each other.

I called NDSO’s mobile and he said he was “just down the street” and would come pick me up within 5 minutes. Thirty minutes later NDSO finally arrived in his motorbike, without a helmet on (which is against the law in Nepal). We then rode down the street to his second office I guess - a local drinking establishment.

At the hotel NDSO introduced me to some of his “pals”. It was only 10 in the morning and his buddies were already hitting the moonshine. I was offered some breakfast - Whiskey on the rocks - which I kindly declined.

For ten minutes NDSO and his friends talked amongst themselves about various topics unrelated to sports, completely ignoring me. It was as though NDSO forgot that I was there. Feeling neglected, I finally asked NDSO if we could go to another room and talk in private as I had a few things I needed to discuss with him. “Oh yeah, of course – sure, why not,” was his reply and we proceeded to an adjacent room.

I first asked NDSO if he had received the sports equipment I had sent him some time ago. He scratched his head for a moment, then acknowledged receiving the equipment but pointed out that he was not exactly sure where he put it, but that it was in good hands.

NDSO then started rambling-on about how many of the people I am working with in Nepali sports are incompetent, unprofessional and corrupt. He suggested that I should work with him more closely as he is far more honest, hardworking and cutting edge than the rest.

I politely told him “Let me think about it” and asked NDSO to give me his email address so we could stay in touch. He told me because he was so busy he did not have time create an email account and that I should just call him on his mobile whenever I needed to get in touch with him.

During our talk NDSO’s mobile kept ringing. It turns out he had scheduled an executive committee meeting for his sport at the exact same time as our appointment. Seeing he was in a difficult position, I told NDSO that I had to go and that I would stay in touch with him.

NDSO started whining about how I never make time for him and that we never have had a chance to properly sit down and talk. He continued to ramble-on – mentioning how he had great vision, networks and determination and could do wonders for Nepali sports, but was simply limited because of the lack of money. He then proceeded to pay the bill for the breakfast gathering which was around 3000 Rupees!

The meeting was over and visions of Jim Carrey came to my mind.

27 August 2010

Pokhara Stadium

Looks like Sahara Club got a lawn-mower. This will be a very nice venue for the National League.
Photo courtesy of Sudarshan Ranjit

16 August 2010

Nepali sport hurt by a lack of Commonwealth

Could the stalemate against the Brits in the Anglo-Nepalese War have hurt Nepal's sporting prowess?

The Commonwealth Games torch arrived a few days back in my present home in Hyderabad and it had me thinking about Nepal's absence from the various Commonwealth sporting galas.

Beyond the SAG and Asian Games, most of our SAARC neighbors also participate in the high level Commonwealth Games and other Commonwealth sports meets. This gives their athletes increased opportunities to achieve glory and develop their sporting prowess. Meanwhile our sportsman are sitting at a chiya pasal in Tripureswor drinking tea and eating biscuits.

Despite Gurkhas serving in the British Army for over a hundred years, Nepal has no constitutional links (heck, we don't even have a constitution right now!) to Britain, thus we do not qualify to be a Commonwealth Nation. If we had been swept-up by the British Empire, we would probably all hold Indian passports today (oh dear!). So it's all a bit of a catch 22.

13 August 2010

ICC World Cricket League Division 4

Nepal continues on its quest to qualify for the 2015 ICC World Cup. The World Cricket League Division 4 takes place in Bologna, Italy from August 14-20.

Nepal plays:
  • USA (August 14, rescheduled to the 19th)
  • Italy (August 15)
  • Tanzania (August 17)
  • Argentina (August 18)
  • Cayman Islands (August 20)
You can follow the action on the ICC Official Website and the Italian Cricket Federation site. Live commentary is available on Cricinfo. There are also several active Nepali cricket blogs:

31 July 2010

MMC to Pokhara?

MMC created a lot of buzz this week with their press conference announcing the big-money signings of virtually all of Nepal's best players that do not play for Nepal Police Club. Despite all the fanfare, the fact of the matter is that MMC still has a long way to go. They still do not train regularly or have a training ground, youth academy or club store - all basic prerequisites to truly call yourself a professional club.

As long as MMC is based in Kathmandu none of those short comings will change. The Valley is just too chaotic and filled with too much negativity to implement bold ideas. I was thus pondering, how awesome would it be if MMC moved to Pokhara.

It makes too much sense! MMC already has a massive following among the large ethnic population in Pokhara and unlike other Kathmandu based clubs, they do not really have a geographic footprint in the Capital, so relocating to Pokhara is not going outrage any communities in Kathmandu.

As potentially the only "A" division club that would be located in Pokhara, MMC could generate a lot of support from fans and businesses in the city. Pokhara Stadium would be packed to the brim for each one of MMC's home matches meaning lakhs and lakhs of revenue for the club. Starting an academy and ancillary football activities would be a million times easier than it would be in Kathmandu. As for the other Pokhara team, Sahara Club - most big cities in the world have several big clubs, so Pokhara would be no different. Hopefully Sahara Club would be inspired to start playing in the Martyr's League after witnessing MMC truly become Nepal's first professional football club.

14 July 2010

Is a national football league viable?

A popular topic among Nepali football enthusiasts is the viability of a national football league. Virtually every country in the world holds a national league, but in Nepal our football league basically is a championship for Kathmandu valley based clubs. As a result 90% of the country is deprived of the opportunity to witness top level football on a regular basis. Clubs are the heart of football, so with 90% of the country lacking a first division club the pulse of Nepali football is a flat-line.

Read the full article at Goalnepal.com

10 July 2010

Dharan or Itahari?

There is a big war going on between Dharan and Itahari to land a regional stadium funded by the Government. Previously, I wrote about how I welcomed the politics that is going on between the various cities looking to land the stadium, but now that rivalry seems to be getting a bit out of hand.

As someone quite familiar with Eastern Nepal, I personally believe that Itahari would be the better location for a stadium. For a "regional" stadium Itahari is ideally placed as it is right on the East-West Highway and 30 minutes drive from Biratnagar Airport. The town is equidistant to Dharan and Biratnagar and Saptari and Jhapa districts are easily accessible. Itahari is also located in the plains, so unlike in Dharan, finding a large flat plot of land is not an issue. Dharan already hosts the ANFA Eastern Technical Centre (first photo below) and has an open ground (second photo below) where the Budha Subba Cup is held, so Itahari is much more needy when it comes to sporting infrastructure. Either way, let's hope a stadium gets built sooner than later.

What are your thoughts? Which city do feel should get the stadium? (Goalnepal.com is reporting that the stadium will go to Itahari)

I've run out of material

Sorry guys for the lack of posts recently. After writing over 200 articles in under 18 months I've kind of run out of material. Every time I think of writing a new piece, I realize I've touched on the subject before. For example currently the Coca-Cola School Football Championship and several basketball tournaments are taking place. I've already written about my issues with the school tournaments in Nepal and how basketball is the game of the youth. Every day there is another scandal in Nepali sports, but who wants to read another negative piece about our incompetent sports officials?

If you have any topic ideas or a subject you would like me to write about please post it in the comments section.

13 June 2010

Nepal in the World Cup

Can it happen? Absolutely it can!

The naysayers will always bring-up excuses - we're too poor (Honduras?), our players are too small (Messi?), it will take generations (North Korea?), Nepal is too corrupt (Cameroon?), our facilities are pathetic (Nigeria?) - but the fact is many countries with our resume (as highlighted in the parentheses) have achieved what many believe to be impossible.

A recent Price Waterhouse Coopers report stated, "If a country has a strong footballing tradition, then finding 11 international-class players should not be that difficult even from a population of just a few million". 

We do not need hundreds of world class footballers, we just need 11 good ones. If we have good scouting, strong coaches and a solid youth football system (ANFA Academy fails on all three counts), we can definitely create a competitive team. As countries like North Korea, Togo, Jamaica, Trinidad, New Zealand and Honduras have shown, once you have a competitive team, with a bit of good fortune, anything can happen - even Nepal qualifying for the FIFA World Cup. (Photo with permission from Sangesh Shrestha)

03 June 2010

Jesus loves you

Found this amusing photo taken by Sangesh Shrestha at the British Gurkha Cup. Some may recall a post I wrote some time back about Jesus and Nepali sports.

23 May 2010

English footballers and the Gurkhas

English soccer star David Beckham paid a visit to British troops in Afghanistan. He played some football with a group of Gurkhas and even participated in a prayer with them (notice the Kata scarf around his neck). The kick-around and Buddhist prayer can be seen at the end of this video clip. Beckham is not the only England star that is a fan of the brave Gurkhas. Wayne Rooney has also enlisted a Gurkha to help him out during the World Cup.

21 May 2010

Football on the hills

During my visits to Darjeeling I was quite intrigued by the football fields there. They provide a template for how football fields in the hills could look like. As you can see, the lack of grass is the big issue. I wonder if that has to do with the quality of the soil or maintenance costs. Regardless, Brazilians learn their football on the streets and in the beaches, so just having a field to play on would be immense for Nepali footballers in the hills.


17 May 2010

Sweet sports blog

Lots of interesting posts, photos and comments on Sweet and Sour About Nepal Sports Scene Blog.

The recently launched blog is written by an active sports insider (who wishes to remain anonymous) so it provides lots of juicy tidbits about the goings-on in Nepali sports. Unfortunately the big problem with all the various Nepali sports blogs popping up these days is that the people that should really be reading them – our sports officials – seldom use the Internet.

15 May 2010

New Road for Nepali football

New Road Team’s return to Asia did not go according to plan. They were pretty much out of the tournament the moment the 40 degree Dhaka air smashed against their faces at Zia International Airport.

Though their results on the field were abysmal, the club’s off the field approach to the tournament, according to reports, was quite professional. From tailored suits to new training gear and even a full compliment of medical staff, Nepal’s oldest football club did its best to try to enter the modern era of football. Let’s hope that the results do not discourage NRT from bringing that professional mindset back to Nepali football. Sustained professionalism will undoubtedly pay dividends in the future.

06 May 2010

Maoists for Manchester?

Maoist cadres decked-out in Manchester United shirts. Are the Glazers up to something in Nepal? :)
Photo taken from ekantipur.com

01 May 2010

Nepal golf on the up

Officials from Tiger Sports Marketing (TSM), the organizers of the recently concluded Surya Nepal Masters, had very positive views on Nepali golf when I coincidentally bumped into them on my Delhi bound flight. A lot of their comments reaffirm past golf related posts on Rangsala Blog. According to TSM there is a good youth development program in place, the Pokhara golf course is one of the most beautiful in the world and the domestic golf tour is a great starting point to develop the game domestically. They also mentioned that Nepal has a bumper crop of tour pros and that there were plans to extend the Airport Golf Course to 18 holes (though the Nepal Airport Authority (CAAN) have other ideas in mind).

30 April 2010

Just money is not the solution

ANFA loves to boast about the prize money and gifts it has been securing for its clubs and players. Nepali clubs will share over Rupees 80 lakhs in next year’s league and while other sports associations are handing out tracksuits to their stars, Nepali footballers are getting TVs, motorbikes and now even a house. There is no two ways about it, this is all very positive for Nepali football and Ganesh Thapa and company deserve some jerri and juice for their efforts. However, ANFA needs to understand that money does not solve all problems...

Full article available at Goalnepal.com

29 April 2010

Dressed for the occasion

National lady footballers in matching saris for the post South Asian Games award ceremony. Very charming.

Photo taken from Republica

28 April 2010

Football in our genes

Kansas City Wizards and Indian striker Sunil Chhetri says his Nepali mother taught him everything he knows about football.

Nepal Basketball Association logo

The NeBA logo (see background) is pretty nifty. One of the better sport association logos.

Photo taken from Nepalisports.com

18 April 2010

Professionalism

Winning and losing is often separated by the smallest of margins. A few inches, a moment of concentration or an inspired coaching decision could mean the difference between riding inside a mini-bus back to your village or on top of one in a victory parade around the streets of Kathmandu.

Those small margins come from getting the edge over your opponent - technical edge, psychological edge, physical edge,  tactical edge, organizational edge and the intangibles edge. While our teams and athletes might be technically on par with their opponents, in the other areas we lag far behind, thus we keep struggling to get over the hump.

That's where professionalism comes in. Professionalism isn't just about making a good living off of sports, it is about getting the edge. Professionalism is when:
  • a coach is more interested in a coaching manual than a tracksuit
  • a player is spending more time in the gym than on Facebook
  • a referee understand that knowing how to communicate is as important as knowing the rules
  • the government realizes that you help athletes to succeed and not after they have succeeded
  • sports officials go abroad not to shop for their relatives but to shop for new ideas to develop their sport back home
  • a club is just as focused on developing its administrative team as its playing team
  • fans understand that you encourage your players and not rag on them
That's what professionalism is about and that's what will give players and teams the edge to get over the hump.

16 April 2010

Looking for passionate Nepali sports bloggers

Lots of Nepali sports related blogs have been sprouting all over the World Wide Web recently. While it is great to see so many people giving their paanch paisa on Nepali sports, for readers sorting through the various blogs can be tougher than walking around Ason on a Friday evening. 

In light of this, Rangsala Blog is now open to anyone who is passionate and opinionated about Nepali sports. We want to be the home of Nepal's top sports bloggers. If you have something important to say about Nepali sports, say it here! We're looking for strong opinions, original content and a different take on Nepali sports.

If you're interested in writing on Rangasala Blog please contact us at rangasala(at)gmail.com

10 April 2010

Nepali cricket - still a long way to go

Once again Nepali cricket failed to produce when it mattered most. Sure an optimist can always find silver linings - be it the fact we reached the finals of the ACC Cup, won the WCL Division 5, or the brilliant performances of Nischal Pandey in the the ACC Under 16 Elite Cup - but in plain terms we are nowhere near where we should be given our geography and the massive popularity of cricket in the country.

For the countries we compete against in the lower rungs of international cricket, the sport is merely a recreational opportunity for immigrants and expats. A majority of their population do not even know that the sport exists and you would be hard pressed to find any significant local media coverage for it.

We should not be competitive with the likes of USA, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong - we should be destroying them. Yes, some of these teams are packed with non-nationals, but if we want to play against Afridi and Dhoni we need to easily be able to depose their little brothers.  With the resources Nepali cricket has access to (and I'm not simply talking about money), we should at least be an ODI nation and in the same company with Ireland, Canada, Netherlands, Scotland, Kenya and Afghanistan.

What is ailing Nepali cricket then? (And virtually every other sport in the country for that matter). PROFESSIONALISM! More on that in my next blog post in a weeks time. Until then Happy New Year to all of you.

04 April 2010

Competence at sports associations

If you meet a Nepali sports official, a standard line you will most likely hear from them is how no one with a shred of competence is willing to work in the sports sector. Thus as a great sacrifice to sport and country they must continue to serve as the guardians of their sport to protect it from leaches and infidels.

Sukuti! (Guess that would be the equivalent to ‘Bologna’ in Nepali)

Nepal has plenty of passionate and talented people who would be more than enthusiastic to help uplift sports in the country. If you don’t know any, then you probably have spent half your life inside the corner MoMo shop and the other half at Ranjana Cinema Hall. Basically you're living in the dark.

The dirty little secret is sports officials are terrified to bring in competent people into their associations. They know it may expose their own incompetence and could cause cracks in their well guarded fiefdoms. Therefore creating a dysfunctional sports organization suits them perfect, because that is exactly what will drive away the overachievers and protect their lands from invasion.

28 March 2010

Articles lack creativity

Those who follow Rangasala Blog know that I have been quite complimentary of Nepali Sports Journalists lately. There have been a host of wonderful human interest sports stories in the press recently. The latest is a fantastic article by Pratichya Dulal.

However one thing Nepali sports pieces sorely lack is wit and creativity. Reading Nepali sports articles is the equivalent of swallowing sleeping pills. We hardly ever see the headlines, nicknames, drama and humor that makes reading British and American sports articles so enjoyable. Sports editors and journalist in Nepal really need to add some masala to their work - create interesting storylines, develop an aura around athletes, give readers a reason to smile.

I give credit to Bikram Thapa, the editor of Goalnepal.com, as his website is one of the few media outlets that lets loose. From silly phrases ("Lemon Break", "Peep!", "Smell a Rat"),  to quirky lines ("600 seconds gone in the match"), to witty nicknames (APF=Gunners, NRT=Road Runners), Goalnepal.com is an entertaining destination. Other publications need to follow suit.

20 March 2010

ANFA Website

During my school days in the USA I dreamed of the day ANFA would launch an official website so that I and those like me could easily follow Nepali football. Well over a decade later my dream has finally come true and it has turned out to be a nightmare.

Last week Three Star Club launched their official website. I was curious to see who designed it and that took me to the website of Longtail E-Media. On their site I noticed a screen-shot of what looked like ANFA's website. I presumed that Longtail were designing the ANFA site and sent an email asking them when it would be launched. To my surprise, I received a reply stating that the ANFA website had been up and running for over a year! The fact that a Nepal football jihadist like myself had no clue the site existed just begins to tell the story of what is wrong with the ANFA website.

Besides never properly publicizing it (were they ashamed of it?), the website is hardly updated, filled with spelling and grammar mistakes, several pages remain empty and the "Nepal Football History" section is a cut and paste from Wikipedia. I could go on, but I know no one at ANFA really gives a damn, so no point wasting anymore bandwidth on this topic.

14 March 2010

Nepali Sports and Facebook

As you can see by all the links on the left side column, Nepali sports' presence on the World Wide Web is steadily growing. Nowhere is this more apparent than on Facebook. To give you an idea - on Facebook I am a member of 20 pages or groups, and friends with around 200 people related to sports in Nepal.

The entities that I follow include clubs (Three Star, Machhindra), websites (Cricket Nepal, GoalNepal.com) athletes (Deepak Bista, Hari Khadka), sports journalists (Binod Pandey, Niranjan Rajbanshi) and fans.

If you are a Nepali sports lover, you really need to join Facebook. It is great place to not only get news and information, but to feel the pulse of Nepali sports. On the Three Star Club page you can witness the frustration of their fans with their poor start to the season. There is another page that chastises Cricket Association of Nepal's player selections. There was even a public tiff between a newspaper and a sports photographer.

Facebook is a boon for Nepali sports in another important way. As the Nepali sports fraternity continues to be active on the Internet it will link them with the broader sports world, providing them with much needed sports knowledge, networks and role models. For example, already many Nepalis are following Shillong Lajong FC through Facebook because of Anil Gurung, the club’s Nepali striker. As they continue to monitor the endeavors of a progressive club like Shillong, undoubtedly a few Nepali sports persons will pick-up some ideas and implement them domestically, thus helping raise sports standards in the country.

As a side - a lot of the blurbs and links I used to post on this blog, I now only post on Facebook and Twitter. So be sure to follow Rangasala Blog on those social networks.

06 March 2010

Martyrs League football


A few thoughts on the Martyrs League so far:

Competition
With 12 clubs and virtually no lightweights (i.e. Bansbari Club, Brigade Boys) this is the fiercest league in memory. Any team can win on any given day. Many might point to the exodus of star players from the big clubs as to the reason why, but even the less fancied clubs like Machhindra and Jawlakhel have had to completely reload their rosters. Hopefully ANFA will leave the number of teams at 12 or reduce it further to ensure a strong level of play. There just is not the need or enough talent for more teams in the top flight.

Attendance
Crowds have been disappointing, but perhaps it is a reflection of Nepal today. With constant bandhs, security issues, and chaotic transportation system – people are just not willing to make an effort to attend matches. Having games everyday kills the novelty of going to the stadium, but with the AFC Presidents Cup looming ANFA has little choice but to conclude the league as quickly as possible.

Players
With so many players leaving Nepal for opportunities abroad, a lot of new players have had to fill the holes. Most of them are settling in quite well. It proves that there really is not much difference in the standard of players across the country. In a way it is an indictment on our top players who still take an amateur approach to their careers, thus they are only marginally better than the rest of the pack.

Clubs
Have they done anything to really develop themselves? They continue to treat football as a hobby. Their lack of professionalism is highlighted by MMC replacing their famous sky blue and white striped jerseys (see photo below left) with a bland blue shirt they found at the Adidas store (see photo below right). If they can’t even get their club colors right, how can we expect bigger things from them?  
Update: MMC have gone back to playing with their traditional kits. Hurray!