National Games: Opportunity, despite Challenges

Somesh

CPN-UML leader KP Sharma Oli is seen playing Dandi Biyo while inaugurating a Sports Tourism Festival. Circa: April 2011

The news of National Sports Council (NSC) proposing to organize National Games in the first quarter of coming 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 an opponent in a match. Not necessarily a sign of nervousness, but the stress of approaching duel. Stress, by itself, is not bad.
Seven months away it is, yet some of the players must already be licking their lips at a chance of another round of competitions. For if they’re not, they’re not worthy of being the athletes we would be proud of. An athlete, like a warrior, should welcome any opportunity of a round of duel.
But for most players in the country, the duels – keeping in mind that our players mostly do well in individual events – are too few and far in between. This is why the National Games holds a lot of importance, especially for the players who are not already representing the nation at international competitions. Almost all the players, barring a few who take sport as a hobby, dream of playing for their country at the top level. And the National Games provide them the stage where they can upstage a present champion; the podium where they announce their coming; the platform where they humiliate the also-rans.
Moreover, the multi-sport jamboree brings in a lot of fanfare, makes the youngsters dream. Dreams of podium finish; Dreams of clinching the honours; Dreams of rising to the occasion; Dreams of pushing themselves harder…
 One should also mention here that the Games are to be held in Far Western region. It should only help develop and nurture sports culture.
And for these reasons, the announcement or proposal – whatever it might be called as of now – has to be lauded.
Having said all these, the challenges are still many. The proposed Games, which are to be held in the far western region, are still not a certainty; it still needs the nod of ministerial cabinet. And in given circumstances, the members of the cabinet are counting hours of being in power, rather than weeks or months.
The players and sport administrators must be keeping their fingers crossed. They must be fighting, in their mind, the possibility of news that the Games are postponed. After all, it has already been done earlier this year.
And even the government gives its nod, some major challenges remain. That of infrastructure. With just over half a year to go, how many grounds – forget stadia or arena – can be built? Even if they are built in a jiffy, what would be the standard of infrastructure? National Games is also to prepare players for international competitions. Would it be possible to guarantee that? Rallying 5 regional sport development bodies and 72 district bodies to focus on the Games is a tough ask by itself, since it is time consuming. And to top all that is a small matter of: Funds. 30 million Rupees has been allocated for infrastructure and you don’t need to be a Chartered Accountant to say, “It’s not enough.”
In an interview to yours truly, right after being nominated for the post of Member Secretary of NSW, Yubraj Lama had spelt out priorities for his tenure. Establishing Sports College topped his agenda, while regularizing multi-sport competitions (like National Games) and resolving conflict between sport bodies (like Nepal Olympic Committee and other associations) also were on his list, as he said.
In the latest announcement of NSC, initiatives have been taken for these areas, by forming committees and taskforces, which might even work.
But those, who are not Lama fans, would term these decisions as populist. They could say that the government will change and his days on the hot seat are numbered. He may not get opportunity to implement them, relieving him of the burden.
So the NSC Member Secretary, Yubraj Lama, must have stressful days ahead. To get permission to organize event, and that too successfully…
But then, as we earlier mentioned – Stress, by itself, is not bad. Let’s see how he lives it.
(PS: The write-up appeared in Yours Truly’s weekly sports column – OFFSIDE – in The Kathmandu Post, on 13th August, 2011)
Disclaimer: The picture shown in the post is courtesy http://xnepali.net/ihost/dandi-biyo-is-it-the-nepali-national-game.

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