31 January 2010

Photo: Young Nepali fan at Rangasala

I absolutely adore the picture below which Jumanu Rai posted on his Facebook account. I'll definitely have to get my little girl into that set-up when I take her to Rangasala in a few years time.

29 January 2010

Prize money

Lots of cash rewards are on offer to Nepali athletes that bring home a medal from the 11th South Asian Games in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The amounts range from a few thousand to several lakhs Rupees depending on the sport and the color of the medal.

Would Nepal win more gold medals at the South Asian Games if athletes were offered a million dollars for each gold medal? Similarly, if not a single rupee was on the table to the sportsmen, would they simply give-up? The answer to both questions is no. The lure of prize money does not change an athletes performance - strong coaching, good facilities, regular competitions and peace of mind do.

26 January 2010

Disregard for best practices

Virtually every self help book will tell you that role-modeling is a shortcut to attaining success. If you want to be a great speaker - watch Bill Clinton. If you want to make money - read Richard Branson's autobiography (actually it's not that great, but you get the idea). Similarly, if you want to develop football in a country wouldn't it make sense to emulate what they are doing in Brazil, England, Germany, Japan and even Maldives?

This is what is so frustrating about Nepali sports and specifically football.  The keys to success are out there for everyone to see, but our administrators are hell bent on unlocking doors using a paper clip.

Take for example the recent British Gurkha Cup, basically Nepal's equivalent to the FA Cup. Virtually every country has an FA Cup which is usually open to only registered football clubs. ANFA, in its infinite wisdom, however, decided to let in rag-tag unregistered regional teams and a Maoist PLA side which has never participated in the Martyrs League before gatecrash the tournament. What ensued were lopsided scorelines that took the luster off of an otherwise pretty decent tournament.

Similarly, Nepali football clubs have decided to allow five foreigners to be signed for the upcoming Martyr's League. As avid readers of Rangasala Blog will know, AFC has encouraged leagues across Asia to adopt 3+1 rule (three foreigners plus an extra Asian foreign player) when it comes to the signing of foreign players. Most leagues across Asia have or are in the process of adopting this rule, but Nepal's football officials don't seem to care.

It is one thing if the rules were being adjusted to address the specific needs of Nepali football, but as we all well know this has nothing to do with finding solutions for Nepal's football peculiarities and everything to do with how completely out of touch with international football many of our football officials are.

21 January 2010

Domestic: Great cricket marketing, Tracksuits for athletes, Website links

19 January 2010

International: SAG website, Cameroon football kits, Indian sports development

  • The official South Asian Games website. Looks promising, but we'll know for sure when the tournament starts.

  • Some awesome football kits launched by Puma for the Cameroon National Football Team. Unfortunately, ANFA does not even bother putting a flag or logo on the shirts they buy from Bhadrakali (actually, I think they actually buy it from the Adidas store).

  • A list of recommendations from FICCI to the Indian sports authorities.

18 January 2010

Foreign training

Nepali athletes are racking-up frequent flyer miles as they are being dispatched across Asia to further their training for the South Asian Games. Sending athletes for foreign training is virtually a minimum requirement for sports associations these days. Even low profile sports that have no shot at a medal are mustering the resources (usually through grants from the National Sports Council) to send their sportsmen abroad.

The priorities of some of these sports associations are questionable. Many of them fail to organize regular competitions and events domestically, but are insistent that their athletes must have access to international training. Would not the money made available for foreign excursions be much better spent if it was used to develop their sport domestically first?

Ironically, getting NSC to release money for domestic purposes might be a lot tougher than receiving one big fat check to send a few athletes abroad, but that is where sports officials need to wheel and deal to earn their stripes.

The international exposure from foreign tours certainly has many short and long term benefits – there is no denying that. By going abroad athletes have access to better training facilities, the opportunity to learn modern/different techniques, and the experience of travelling and facing foreign competition. But you have to learn to walk before you can run and many sports associations in Nepal need to do a lot more at home before venturing abroad.

11 January 2010

Cricket gets a boost of colors

It is nice to see that the six regional sides in the ongoing Boost Under 16 Cricket League are playing in distinct colored uniforms. I made a post a few months back about how dull domestic cricket in Nepal is. Certainly identifiable uniforms is one way of spicing things up. From a marketing stand point it makes sense for each region to continue wearing the same colors across tournaments. It would make them identifiable and potentially help develop fan and player affinity towards the regional sides.


 Photos courtesy of nepalsportsphoto.com

07 January 2010

Aaha posters

The posters for the Aaha Gold Cup are very "Aaha" looking. It looks like Sahara Club put the logos of every special interest in Nepal on them. Who can blame them?

05 January 2010

SLC stunting player development?

I was surprised to find out that one of the more promising talents at Morang Football Project has not been coming to practice for the last few months. He is under house arrest by his parents as the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exams are fast approaching.

This is the case for nearly half-a-million Nepali teenagers a year. SLC exams mean total lock-down. No hobbies, no sports and even going to the toilet requires mom's permission.

While most interests can easily be pursued after SLC, elite sports is a different animal. A few months or years in the wilderness can severely hamper if not extinguish a players dream of becoming an elite athlete.

The current mindset that sports and studies cannot mix really needs to change. In the USA and many other "sports rich" countries the situation is quite the opposite - unless your parents are Asian of course. Youth are encouraged to participate in sports and other activities throughout the school year. Perform in a school play Friday night, basketball match Saturday afternoon and exams Monday morning. No sweat!