11 March 2012

Cycle of Doom

If this article sounds familiar, you are not mistaken. I have probably written a similar piece about 5 times in the last 15 years. That is because Nepali football for the last two decades has been in a perpetual “Cycle of Doom”. In my hometown of New York City we call it, “Same shit, different day”.

It’s not an exact science, but here is basically how the Cycle of Doom goes:

1)      Nepal appoints a foreign coach (Stephen Constantine, Torsten Spittler, Graham Roberts) and the coach starts making grand proclamations, wears Nepali “topi” and sings lullabies with the players sending fans into a frenzy. (In fairness, Torsten Spittler was strictly business and did not engage in the aforementioned)

2)      Nepal hosts a major international tournament (SAFF Cup 1997, South Asian Games 1999, AFC Presidents Cup 2005, AFC Challenge Cup 2012) and fans and media think that a golden age in Nepali football is about to start.

3)      Nepal or Nepal’s club representative disappoints in the major international tournament (Basanta Gauchan’s tears-1999, Nirazan Khadka’s agony-2005, Graham Robert’s, “Ask the players” comment-2012)

4)      Nepal/ANFA/Ganesh Thapa gets recognized by FIFA/AFC (FIFA Rankings-2012/2011, Ganesh Thapa becomes AFC Vice President/AFC Gold Medal, Nepal nominated for AFC Association of the Year award-2005) distracting fans and media form the core problems facing Nepali football

5)      Nepal/Nepali Club wins meaningless tournament (Prime Ministers Cup, Subroto Mukerjee Cup (U14), Sikkim Governors Gold Cup) creating false hope

6)      Nepal/Nepali Club gets its ass kicked in FIFA/AFC tournament and Biplav Gautam writes another one of his articles that Nepal needs to focus on developing coaches and youth football

7)      Nepal/Nepali Club whips inferior side (Macau-2001, Abahani Limited-2008, East Timor-2011) but fans and media think we just defeated Brazil/Real Madrid so expectations are high once more

8)      The Cycle of Doom starts again (go back to #1)

At the end of each Cycle of Doom senior sports journalists leave their trade to start NGOs, while die-hard fans get married and have kids and are not able to religiously follow Nepali football anymore, thus we are left with fans and media persons in diapers who think Nepali football’s history began only yesterday and that “Nepal’s fortunes will change once we find a decent striker”.

Sorry kids but Nepali football has been around 80+ years. New Road Team (NRT) is over 75 years-old, ANFA over 50, ANFA Academy has been in place for 13 years. When Naresh Joshi and Nirajan Raymajhi were banging in goals for fun, the problem was defenders, with Graham Roberts’ “World Class backline” (his words, not mine), striking is the issue.

Our National Team hasn’t beaten Maldives, a country smaller than Bhaktapur that is about sink into the Indian Ocean because of Global Warming, in ages. In the meantime clubs from countries like Myanmar and Taiwan have gone from chumps to champs in less than half-a-decade winning the last two editions of the AFC Presidents Cup respectively.

Breaking the Cycle of Doom

So how do we turn the Cycle of Doom into a Cycle of Boom? If you have read my past articles, you have heard it all before, so I’ll be very brief.

Our present challenge is that our current National Team players are simply not good enough to compete at the international level. That is why just one National Team member, Rohit Chand, plays for a foreign club. We need players of a higher standard and that will only come about if we have a large pool of players and intense competition for places.

To develop top talents you first need quality coaches (not tens but hundreds) and a youth system where thousands of kids (not just 40 at the ANFA Academy) are playing organized football and training under the guidance of competent coaches.

There is no rocket-science involved, ANFA as well as clubs, schools and communities need to invest heavily on coaching and youth football. Yes, it’s that simple.