03 December 2023

Bhim Thapa

I had the good fortune to work and interact with Bhim Thapa on several occasions, including on a grassroots football coaching program we organized together in Morang district. At the time, grassroots football and coach education was not really appreciated by much of the Nepali football fraternity. I recall people questioning why we would waste our time training junior coaches and very young kids in the villages. Bhim Thapa knew exactly why! 

Farewell dear coach.

Coaching program in Biratnagar
Coaching clinic Bhim Thapa and I coordinated in Biratnagar

Bhim Thapa teaching a group of aspiring coaches
from different villages across Morang district

02 July 2023

July 4th - Independence Day (USA)

I’ve had the privilege to live in 10+ countries and visit another 40 or so. There are so many beautiful and inspiring places globally but the opportunities, innovation, diversity, charitable ethos and pioneering spirit found in the U.S. are unmatched. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty amazing. That is why July 4th - Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays, as it provides an ideal moment to reflect on the greatness of this country and the unique and visionary foundations it was built on.

26 June 2023

A Division results need to be decided on the pitch instead of off of it

A Division league table from Hamro Khelkud
Nepal's top flight football league experienced yet another chaotic finale with accusations of bias, unfairness, tanking and match-fixing all across the league table.

This is par for the course in Nepali football and primarily due to the competition organizers lacking common sense when developing the league format and competition rules. 

Below are just a few givens when it comes to the A Division every time it is played:

  • Due to political mischief many clubs struggle to register foreign players for the start of the season
  • Key players depart in the middle of the season for opportunities abroad
  • Top clubs will use incremental prize money to buy wins and guarantee their places at the top of the table
  • Clubs in and near the relegation zone fix matches to avoid going down

The phrase "the table does not lie" thus does not hold true in Nepal.  Due to some of the above circumstance the final standing is usually not at all indicative of how strong club is but more representative of their political and financial might in getting players registered on time and fixing matches. For this reason a double-round league holds little value in Nepal.

Football officials should instead create a format that allows clubs to fight it out in meaningful end of season matches. Basically playoffs (though there are other little hacks, such as leveling the prize money, than can also help).

After the league stage, take the top 4,6 or 8 teams and let them compete in a single elimination playoff where all teams are incentivized to give it their all. Similarly, take the bottom four teams and have them play a one-off game where the loser gets relegated. With such formats in place, clubs will much less likely fix games or block other teams from registering their players on time (yes! that happens in Nepal) as they will know that eventually the playoff matches will be decisive and engaging in nefarious shenanigans is a waste of their time and money. Let the A Division results be decided on the pitch instead of off of it!