An Article by ANISH LAMICHHANE:
Back in 1990s, Nepali football got the best team ever. In 1993, Nepali Football achieved the biggest success by defeating arch rival India in final of South Asian Games (Football). At that time, Nepal defeated India 4-3 on penalties during South Asian Games in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Since then, Nepali Football fans were provided with that joy just a couple of years ago.
Let’s have a brief look at Nepal’s History:
The teams like Mahabir-11, N R T-11, Jawalakhel-11, and Public Institute-11 were established in 1934. The football tournament was organized for the first time in an institutional way in 1934, in which 12 teams participated. In that tournament, the team of Jawalakhel club led by Nar Shumsher had secured first position. At that time, the chief of Public team Mr. Najarman Singh told that his team had got support and encouragement from Trichandra campus and audience.
Although that tournament was a grand success, due to various reasons the government decreed to ban the game but yet it was played inside and outside the palace in secret way. Football was born in Nepal with such enthusiasm.
After the construction of Dasarath Stadium football matches were played there regularly since 1959. In the year 1959 a memorable event of a football match between the teams King-11 and Primeminister-11 which was charity match held at Dasarath Stadium. Therefore, Dashrath Stadium is the home of Nepali Football, in fact the mother of Nepali Football.
In 1970, Nepal became a member of FIFA. And hence Nepal’s football game can be divided into three stages. The first stage was from 1977 to 1983 when football game had made an early in Nepal and was played for entertainment. The second stage was from 1947 to 1973, which stage was regarded as a revolutionary stage in the history of football in Nepal. And the third stage is regarded from the year 1973 till now when football game has been improved, modernized, commercialized and even Nepali players have been able to occupy place in International football standards. But now, Nepali Football is moving to its fourth stage. I am sure I don’t need any explanation about this fourth stage. The recent condition of Football governing body of Nepal shows it clear.
In past ten years, Nepali Football was all struggling before the year 2016 gave some ray of hope. Nepali football was trying hard to make some mark in SAFF Championship, the regional based tournament played among eight SA nations. Nepal being one of the oldest participant of the tournament, the team is yet to taste the SAFF Trophy. In fact, Nepali team is yet to reach the final of the Championship. However, the year 2016 was regarded as the best for Nepali football after that of 1993. That year, Nepal grabbed 3 silverware which includes Bangabandhu Gold Cup in Bangladesh, South Asian Games (Gold Medal) in India and Solidarity Cup in Malaysia. But the credit also goes to Bimal Gharti Magar led Nepal U19 team that lifted the SAFF U19 trophy in 2015. Majority of the players from that team was the part in later three tournaments. In addition, everyone thought this success just came after ANFA’s then President Ganesh Thapa was vacant from his post and similarly, the Skipper Sagar Thapa and his deputy Sandip Rai including other two players were accused of Match Fixings and were deprived of playing any kind of tournament in futures. This could be just coincidence or something else. But in my thought its not other than just a coincidence.
Football Future hanging by a thin thread !
With lack of a proper Football League System, which is regarded as the foundation of development of football for every nation, Nepali football is struggling hard to keep the identity of football in Nepal. After the downfall of Ganesh Thapa, the newly formed committee was able to conduct the league for the first year, but they got a perfect excuse of Earthquake for not conducting the league. The only International stadium, Dashrath Stadium was completely damaged by the Earthquake which was already damaged. So, this has been a perfect excuse for the board for not conducting the league. In fact, Nepali team won all those three tournaments without playing any league in that year followed by another. What was that, which made Nepali team in touch with the game? Yes, it is the ‘Maufasal’ tournaments. Many local tournaments, outside the valley are continuously being organised. This is the main factor of football development in Nepal in recent days. This is the that thin thread, which is holding the vanishing identity of Nepali Football. This is the factor Nepali Football is some what busy. If this thin thread breaks, then we can’t even imagine what will happen to our Football.
If not these Maufasal tournament, then football in Nepal would have been limited in story only. This year as well, the proposed league was postponed thrice due to postponement of the ANFA election and finally it was postponed to uncertainty. It sure that it won’t be conducted unless a new board is formed. So, let’s be positive, let’s hope positive. Let’s hope ANFA election will bring the capable person in the position. Let’s hope we will see out Dashrath Stadium as beautiful as it used to be. Let’s hope we will soon witness another League in our Nation, another mouthwatering clash between top teams. Let’s hope all the problems in Nepali football will be sorted out before that thin thread breaks.
Jai Nepal, Jai Nepali Football