Tussle in Taekwondo

Just as he completed a year at office, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai was awarded ninth dan (black belt) in Taekwondo, by National Taekwondo Union.

Although the award was honorary in nature, this piece of information might sound as if Taekwondo, as a sport, is likely get a shot in arm and develop as it was expected a decade ago. But on the contrary, the nature and objective of program where this award was announced would get one worried for the sport.

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Cricket on a sticky wicket?

If you are a cricket fan and feeling bad with the news of Asian Cricket Council slapping 10 percent penalty on the capital and development grant forNepal, you should probably know that the worst is definitely not over.

If you think Cricket Association of Nepal was dim-witted for failing to submit the financial report within the deadline, you’d probably think twice before using the word dim-witted. For, there could be worse news in the offing for cricket fans.

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Is it Cricket?

These are difficult times to be a cricketer here. Mind you, under normal circumstances it would be busy times with a major championship not too far away (ACC T20 Cup gets underway in a fortnight).
Cricketers in Nepal have always considered themselves unlucky. In the beginning days ofcricket here, most could not play, given it was only within a reach of richerfew. Hence most were unlucky. Till late 90s, Nepal had no participation atinternational level, so the players were said to be unlucky. When the cricket administration prospered and coffers did not show zero balance, the cricketers said they were unlucky as they did not receive anything out of it.

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Of Awards, Missions and ‘My People’

Jess Owens oncesaid, “Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.”
And Owens wasarguably one of the most influential athletes of all time, winning 4 gold inBerlin Olympics in 1936, when Hitler staged the game to showcase the Aryansupremacy.
Despite what Owenssaid, awards do, and would continue to, mean a lot to the athletes. These arethe reasons why they play for, when the game they play is not enough to buythem sustenance. Probably that’s why Pulsar Sports Awards gets a lot ofpublicity. So much that players go ahead players or their fans go ahead gettingpamphlets printed and paste it around the walls. So much, fan groups rallyaround requesting for SMS votes. The national football team went to the easternregion, to play friendly matches against Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa – with thepermission from ANFA – to gather support for its captain, who happens to be oneof the nominees for Popular Player of the Year.
At the risk ofirritating a lot of sports journos, yours truly would also like to argue thatthe awards have become popular also because it is organized by Nepal SportsJournalist Forum. Most sports journos are affiliated with the forum, and thenews gets month long (or more coverage in popular newsprint), making it widelyread, and thus popular. One question could be asked here: Would it get as muchcoverage, if some other organization covered it?
If the answer isyes, there is nothing wrong with it. But if the answer is no, rethinking is needed. Are we overdoing it?

National Games: Opportunity, despite Challenges

The news of National SportsCouncil (NSC) proposing to organize National Games in the first quarter ofcoming year must have brought back butterflies in the abdomen of the numerous athletes.This normally happens, even to the top players; just before they are take on anopponent in a match. Not necessarily a sign of nervousness, but the stress ofapproaching duel. Stress, by itself, is not bad.
Seven months away it is, yet someof the players must already be licking their lips at a chance of another roundof competitions. For if they’re not, they’re not worthy of being the athleteswe would be proud of. An athlete, like a warrior, should welcome anyopportunity of a round of duel.

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Olympic spirit: Did we not lose it?

More than 200 countries – 205 in theory – marked the Olympic day on June 23rd. The day has significance in history as it was the same day in the year 1894, when International Olympic Committee was formally established.
As every National Olympic Committees marked the day, their focus was the slogan – Sports for Everyone. Only we, perhaps, marked it without getting the message. For us, it was not for everyone. That has to be exactly the reason why there were two Olympic Committees organizing their own program in two different places. While one chose birthplace of Buddha, the other one chose the capital (as if Buddha was against unity).
If you find it astonishing, you’re in for more shock. Two of our best known sportspersons, and the only players we have produced so far to get ‘qualified’ for an Olympic event, were not the part of celebrations. Yes, Deepak Bista and Sangina Baidya were not present in either of the programs. And why would they? After all, they would not like to be linked with yet another controversy. And which celebration would they choose to attend? They’re affiliated to National Sports Council and would not like to go against what their bosses say.

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.

Opportunities waiting, will we cash?

Just a few days before we enjoyed the high-voltage drama for extension of Constituent Assembly tenure on most national TV channels, we ignored a small matter of one A division Football Club’s plight of not finding sponsors. Needless to say, the club was not from the valley that is hub to everything that matters in the country, be it political frictions, sporting actions or financial transactions.

The plight of the club went mostly unheeded, except for a few sympathetic journos, who got a few more bylines in print. Interestingly, this is not the only club that is facing financial crunch. With the football season at full swing, most clubs are facing the heat, as expenses are rising and incomes fall short. We knew its possibility, but failed take action on time. An opportunity missed.

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Lessons to be Learnt?

Deepak Maharjan was mere 7-year old when Chitra Bahadur Gurung won Nepal a bronze in the 1990 Asian Games, incidentally in Chinese city of Beijing. So it’s highly unlikely that he might have been inspired by that event. And after that, we could never see the podium finish at the Asian level, as far as the pugilists are concerned.
Incidentally, it had to be China again, where the medal drought finally ended for the sport. And incidentally, it had to be another humble player who finished at the podium. In sports, it is said, you don’t win silver, forget bronze. You only win gold.

The Inconvenient Truth

It’s official now. The honourable Sports Minister is going to lead our contingent at the Asian Games. He will be the chef de mission as we’re being represented by our players at the biggest stage in Asia. That, effectively, has killed the speculation and a lot of claims and counter claims over who’s to head our contingent as top athletes from all over Asia parade in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.
You would breathe a sigh of relief at such a piece news, or maybe throw your hands in despair, depending upon how you view the participation. But, if you were an athlete, you’d just nod, and say, “Well, what difference does it make?” Given the nonchalance of our sport officials towards the players in previous visits, the lines speak volumes.

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