Change in Guards at NSC: Will it be change of attitude?

The National Sports Council has a new head. Former Karateka Yuvraj Lama has made a comeback into the field of sports, after a gap of almost two decades, as the most powerful (potentially) person in Nepali sports – The Member Secretary of National Sports Council (NSC). Following his appointment, many a person were found asking, why is he back? Or what can he give back to sports?
Being able to talk to him the day he took office, I, too, was bound to ask him – Why? But Lama, as anybody who takes up such a post should be, appeared prepared. He tells you he’s presented a working plan to the party leadership. Party leadership? The question may amuse many. But that’s the way cookie crumbles here. Member Secretary of NSC, like in many other institutions that ought to be autonomous, is a political appointment.
As any sports buff would see it, the challenges are many for Lama. There’s a small matter of preparation for South Asian and Olympic Games that are to be held in 2012, along with administrative challenges of running the organization that’s ill-funded, overstaffed (lack of right person at right job) and often acts as a headless chicken in its own ways. Add to that Nepal’s preparations for hosting the South Asian Games in 2014. Now managing that would be a tough nut to crack even for a martial artist. To top that, he has another arduous and unenviable task of pleasing the party that has sent him to the job, especially as some of its cadres voiced their reservations on his appointment.
Now we can’t forget that Lama was the person who had said his good bye to the field of sports. If you believe insiders of the game, he left it because there was no ‘future’ in the field. He took up the filmdom, as a filmmaker and actor during the gap. Some go on criticizing that his films did not do well and hence he landed in sports again. One may choose to agree or disagree with the statement, depending upon their loyalty. But what the former Karate coach can do is use his knowledge from the field of glamour to improve the image of sporting institutions. The villain on the silverscreen could become a hero off it.
In most countries that are taken as successful in sports, glamour is an integral reason for its popularity among masses. What it does is bring in people to the sports arena, consolidate the fan base as well as sport aspirants, thereby enriching the sector. More the competition, better are the results in international stage. And here, we could do with some glamour in the field. After all, how many sport stars do we see as brand ambassadors of products or social causes? Can be counted in fingers, without needing both hands… Compare it to the Bollywood stars hogging limelight during sport events like IPL. Who takes away the limelight is not a question. What it does to the masses is more important for us.
The other thought that is perhaps disturbing Lama, sports enthusiasts and the sports journos is: How long is he going to be in the hot seat? In all likelihood, the government should change sooner than later. That would mean change in guards again at the NSC (tradition, after all!). Will Lama be able to even table his work plan and start the sports academy or sports college (as he calls it)? Or even if it’s tabled, will his successors (which is bound to happen given the nature of the post), implement it? Will he be able to change the attitude of sports sector or the political leadership that governs it? These perhaps are the questions that need answers. As long as they are not, Yuvraj Lamas would come and go, we’d still be complaining.
One thing that he can definitely do, is make some visible changes to the website of NSC – www.nsc.gov.np. It still shows Jeevan Ram Shrestha as the Member Secretary of NSC. With due respect to Shrestha, he gave up the post almost two years ago.
(This write-up appeared in weekly column of Yours Truly ‘OFF-SIDE’ in The Kathmandu Post on 18th June 2011)

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