Thank you Mr. President!

Sportspeople must be a happy lot this week. For once, they were an agenda at the President’s table. Even if it was for one day, they were made the VIPs at the Presidential Palace.
Awards are what the sportsmen live for, more so, in a country like ours. When the livelihood through sports is not forthcoming, the awards, medals and the cups help them to get over the difficult days.
And when President Ram Baran Yadav met them and patted their backs for receiving the Pulsar Sports Award 2066, their heart must have taken one more leap. The first ever President of the country told them that he was ‘touched’ by the players´ feat of waving the national flag at the international level.
For that, Thank you Mr. President. For you have ‘touched’ many hearts, of the thousands who want to fill up every arena, just with the thoughts that their heroes are taking to the field. The recognition of their heroes means a lot to them.
The scribe of this column remembers the remarks of Nepal’s cricket coach, after he was conferred the ‘Gorkha Dakshin Bahu’ by the then King Gyanendra. Apparently, the then King told him, “Thanks, Roy. Thanks for doing this for our team.”
“That was one of the best moments of my life,” Roy Dias told this scribe years ago (Amazingly, he was one of the nominees for Coach of the Year in the awards this time too). For him, it was a defining moment, which made him say, “Nepal is my second home.”
It is these moments, which make one run that extra yard a little faster, take a leap that is a little higher, fill that kick with a little more power, hit that ball with more force, and to achieve what looked difficult only a moment earlier.
The acceptance of the award by the head of the state means a lot. It just lifts the status of the award, and in some ways, gives hopes to the sportspersons that recognition is always round the corner, given you are ready to work hard.
The Pulsar Sports award may not have become the “Ballon d’Or” (referred to as the European Footballer of the Year ) as yet. But it is interesting to note how “Ballon d’Or” became what it is now.
The “Ballon d’Or“, “The Golden Ball“, was conceived by France Football’s chief writer Gabriel Hanot, who asked his colleagues to vote for the player of the year in Europe in 1956. It is notable that sports journalists had started it. And now it is one of the most recognized awards in football.
For the players like Paras Khadka and Ganga Adhikari, who are young and hold potential, the award must have pleased them. However, the recognition of the award by the President must have pleased the organizers of the awards, the Nepalese Sports Journalist Forum, more. For it has given them some kind of recognition. The Right honorable also mentioned that the award should be taken as a ‘national award’.
For that again, Thank you Mr. President. You’ve given us hope that such an idea is possible – the idea of national recognition of the sportspeople.
However, one thing that might concern some is how the players for the award were chosen. A small committee of some journalists chose the nominees, and eventually also those who were awarded. That must have made some eyebrows raised. An award should make more people happy than there are eyebrows raised. This is a nation learning democratic values and transparency is the best way to learn it. Transparency in the basis of choosing the nominees and transparency in choosing the awardees.
If these things are maintained, it’s only going to help the sports sector. And we may be able to say, Thank you organisers.
Now, the number of journalists allowed to vote “Ballon d’Or” has also increased. Just a couple of years ago, 96 journalists from around the world chose their top five players, compared to Hanot’s colleagues in 1956.
But the question is: Are we going to learn to be more democratic and reasonable?
(The article originally appeared in The Kathmandu Post, 18th September, 2010, in a weekly column of Yours Truly) 

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