Rupak Memorial Awards: A shot misfired?

All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) awarded 12 of its prized possessions this week. Since it started, Rupak Memorial Awards have held its position in Nepali football. And it would have saddened former national captain and FIFA referee Rupak Sharma – who passedaway in an unfortunate accident – to see that the award was discontinued for some years.
For restarting the awards, ANFAdeserves a pat on its back. Restarting a discontinued event to an organizationis akin to a player trying to force his way back into the game after injury.It’s a mental fight, which gets tougher by every passing day. And ANFA shouldbe lauded. After all, these prizes are what makes the players struggle harder,compete better.
However, much as the restartneeds to be congratulated, it should be critically viewed. There are somechinks in the whole episode that should not be ignored and if not corrected intime, would neither improve ANFA’s image nor its working style. Some questionswould demand answer.
The first of them being, how canwe have two best players for every year? The awards are constituted tofelicitate excellence and unless the real best is awarded, the whole purpose islost. It is easy to select two each year as it gives selectors easier option ofnot leaving the second best; but it compromises the dignity of awards. Themerit of awards comes under scrutiny. Mind you, it has not come as exception butgeneral rule. Second bests are second bests, no matter how good they are.Silver medalists are never termed champions.
It would be sad to know thatANFA, or the selection team headed by former national coach Bhim Thapa selectedtwo players for each year, just to please everyone. But awards are not meantfor keeping everyone happy. It is to honor and inspire excellence. Short cuts shouldnot be preferred.
The other question that couldpop up to an inquisitive mind, would be: How were Bikash Malla and Ritesh Thapanamed the best players of the year gone by. Now the point of argument shouldnot be mistaken here. It is not to diminish the service they have provided toNepali football. They have, to the best of their capability, done a good jobunder the bars.
But the point here is, boththese players are not the first choice goalkeeper for the national team. It is KiranChemjong, who has pushed his way as the number one keeper in Nepal. And hisname was missing from the list. How can the top one be left out and two secondbests are honored? We should note that Bikash Malla – who showed a lot ofpromise during his earlier days – plays for the Army Club now, which has noteven been among the top 3 sides in the National League. If the reason to choosethese players over the top keeper is to appease someone, the award loses itsvalue.
One more question would come forawarding Nirajan Rayamajhi for the year 2064. Nirajan has been a great servantof Nepali football, he shares the record scoring most international goals forTeam Nepal along with Hari Khadka. But for the year in question, national leaguewas not held and Rayamajhi was playing for NRT, which hardly gets to play manytournaments. How many matches did he play to get the award?
Rayamajhi deserves accolades andalso awards, for what he has been. But giving it to him for unjustified reasonswould only lower the nobility of the player and the award.
Some of players who have playedwith distinction over these years, like Tashi Tsering, Kumar Thapa, SurendraTamang and national captain Sagar Thapa, are missing from the list. Their contributionneeds to be recognized.
One fact that should make ANFAmanagement happy is that 4 out of 8 awarded players are the product of firstbatch of ANFA academy. This should be an indicator ANFA takes seriously, andpump in more effort in grooming the players.
And as far as awards areconcerned, players should be happy that they’re happening, at least…
(PS: The write-up appeared inYours Truly’s weekly sports column – OFFSIDE – in The Kathmandu Post, on 27thAugust, 2011)
Disclaimer: The picture shown inthe post is courtesy: www.myrepublica.com

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