Sports

Next stop: World Cup

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- SRIJANA RAI

Dec 2, 2016-It hasn’t been long since Nepal’s national football team was crowned the new champions of the first edition of the AFC Solidarity Cup, an alternative to the AFC Challenge Cup. This is the country’s biggest achievement at the continental level. Although many girls in Nepal don’t seem to care much about football, I keep myself abreast of all the popular competitions held not only in Nepal but also around the globe. 

The popularity of football is unlimited. And the most popular sport in Nepal is football. Till last year, there were lots of ups and downs in the game. The governing body of football, Fifa, couldn’t remain aloof from corruption. Till last year, Nepali football was on the darker side. As the saying goes, every dark cloud has a silver lining. The Nepali football team has proved it. The beginning of the year 2016 has proved to be the heralding of a golden period in this sport in Nepal. This year, Nepal won three major football tournaments—Bangabandhu Cup (Bangladesh), Gold Medals in SAG (India) and AFC Solidarity Cup (Malaysia). Nepali football is heightening despite limited resources and lots of internal problems. 

These tendencies have demonstrated that Nepal has risen as a sleeping giant. These successive results have also indicated that Nepal’s strength isn’t limited only to South Asia. Wherever Nepal has played, the media, opponent coaches and fans have highly commended individual skills and technicality of Nepal’s footballers. They are younger and look feeble in terms of physique. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that Asian powerhouses South Korea, Japan and North Korea also have players of similar height. To date, football is considered to be a technical game rather than a physical one. 

I’ve recently seen a video about Nepal in a Fifa World Cup in which 90 percent of the opinions given by football fans are positive. They opine that Nepal is likely to play at least a Fifa World Cup if this winning streak continues and both Anfa and our government fulfil the basic needs of such quality players. Yes, there are quality football players in Nepal. Football is in their blood. It’s a fact that Nepal’s footballers cannot earn their living simply playing a few football tournaments and winning a few national cups. There has to be sustainability in football too. 

There’re many improvements to be made to take Nepali football to a greater height. First, Nepal should target the Asian Cup and then the World Cup. Second, Anfa has to change its existing unsuccessful policies. Corrupt players and authorities must be severely penalised. Finally, the government must introduce more attractive packages such as flats, cars and promotion for employed players and employment for jobless players, medical insurance and discounts in transportation and education for their offspring. If these are fulfilled, Nepal will definitely play in a Fifa World Cup. 

Published: 02-12-2016 08:37

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