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.

Cricket’s call for change

Hardly had Nepali cricket fans recovered from jolt due to ICC confirmation that the next two World Cups will be 10-team events, they were given another shock. The news of a few former national cricketers moving the Supreme Court against the activities of Cricket Association of Nepal has surprised many, at the same time raised quite a few eyebrows too.
Much has already been said by the players and officials from Ireland, the most successful of the associate nations in past two World Cups, along with Scotland, Kenya, Canada and other nations about the associates being shown the exit doors. Whether it moves the money minded ICC or not; Whether it has excluded the ‘world’ from the World Cup or not; Whether that decision will mar the reputation of cricket across the globe or not, the single decision has killed the aspirations of cricketers from the emerging nations. And that includes Nepali players too.

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Minnows’ World Cup? Not quite yet

For once, the cricket fans in Nepal, and perhaps in some other associate members of International Cricket Council, are not very happy with Shahid Afridi, the Pakistani captain and all-rounder. For once, we do not want to cherish his five-for. For once, we do not want to be a part of his match turning performance. For, he blew up the possible juggernaut of associate members, a fairytale, we could have witnessed at this World Cup.
If it was not for his superb bowling efforts, Canada could have defeated Pakistan to create second miracle at this edition of the Cup. They could have pushed the cause started by Ireland, for ICC to reconsider its plans of hosting mere 10 nations at the WC 2015. Now we can’t blame Afridi for that. He’s paid in cash by his board and in respect by hundreds of thousands to do that job, thrashing the minnows and remain competitive with the top teams.

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Where are the youngsters?

Less than a fortnight ago, Pashupati Paneru reclaimed the men’s singles title at the Krishna Mohan Memorial Badminton Championship. The title got him richer by half a hundred thousand rupees, which is not bad for a singles event in Nepal.
But that’s not the point. The point is, that Pashupati Paneru was a lost face in Nepali sports for a while. The point is, that Pashupati Paneru had gone to USA, looking for greener pastures. The point is, that Pashupati Paneru is back. The point is, that Pashupati Paneru is back with a bang.
Even greater point is that the shuttler in question here remained out of competitive badminton for 3 years and came back to win a national level championship without much competition. (He won the final in straight sets)
Now that does not speak well for our sports sector.
Paneru is not the first national level sportsman that took a trip to a foreign land, in search of better life. Nor will he be the last one. For, sportsmen, like us, are human beings. Apart from professional success, like us, they want a better life. A life where they don’t have to stay awake overnight for water supply… A life where they don’t have to wait for electricity for hours on end, just to be able to watch TV…

Next is What!

A few days ago, a fellow journalist, in a reaction to a facebook posting of mine, asked me a question, “What will happen to Nepali cricket after Roy Dias is gone? Would it collapse along with his farewell?”
A few of my other friends scoffed at it. A few were angry, while a few thought the comment was insane.
What impact can a single man make to the whole sector? A reasonable assessment… Perhaps pragmatic approach… For this approach makes you continue, even after a minor debacle…
A similar story had appeared in an international media few months ago, mocking New Zealand cricket. It said the entire New Zealand cricket would retire, when Daniel Vettori, its captain, decides to call it a day. No doubt, Daniel Vettori has been one of the few things Kiwi cricketers can take pride in, over the last decade or so. But he alone is not New Zealand cricket. But the above lines only highlight the contribution one single human being can make to the entire fraternity.

Are we paying heed?

“Stunning beaches on The Great Ocean Rd.. Gorgeous drive!!”
The above lines appeared on the micro blogging site twitter, on England cricketer Kevin Pietersen’s page, couple of hours before he was fined for speeding in Australia. Pietersen was driving a Lamborghini sports car.
Naturally, the incident made headlines. For Pietersen is a star player for his team and commands huge respect among cricket followers in the world, as his twitter posts are followed by more than hundred thousand fans. To top it all, not many would have forgotten the innings of 227 he played to down Australia, making his team earn a lead in the Ashes series.
For media, it was news worthy of a headline.
Cut to another incident.
25-member Nepali women football team left for Dhaka to participate in the SAFF Women´s Football Championship. Some notable TV channels ignored to cover the story, forget making it a headline. The news appeared in print and on online portals, sans fanfare.
It should be interesting here to mention that the team has a sizeable number, 9 players from the team that managed to secure the runners up position in the last edition of South Asian Games. Yet the hoopla was missing.

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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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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 Politics of Sport

Not long ago, our Finance Minister dropped a bombshell on sports fraternity. Of course, like any other politician, he wasn’t thinking sports while talking. Rather, like any other politician, his reasons were political.

The Finance Minister said that Nepal may not be participating in the 16th Asiad, in Guangzhou, China, this November. He said, if the government cannot bring in budget before the festivals, it will not have any money to spend for the participation. His logic, albeit founded on political premises, sounds very simple. His explanation was, ‘what is the point of nation’s pride when there are dangers nation may not remain so’.

Bravo, Mister Minister!  Bull’s eye!

This ain’t cricket!

The so called ‘Gentlemen’s Game’ is under yet another attack. The dark side of cricket, which inspires some to make truckloads of money at the blink of an eye, has resurfaced to show its repulsive face yet again. The incident at the Mecca of cricket has added to the cricketing jargon. Now we have to deal with the term ‘spot fixing’. As if we’d already grown comfortable with the term called ‘match fixing’.
This is not the first time allegations have come to Pakistani cricketers or Pakistani cricket. However, it must be one of the worst blows ever. After terror attacks and security concerns that snatched many international matches – and the much needed money – away from Pakistan, this must be the new low for our flood stricken neighbors.

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