ITAHARI, Dec 30: Former national football team striker Surendra Tamang's house is nearly 200 m away from Itahari Satadium in Itahari. The very ground where Surendra learned to kick ball during his childhood days and later mastered his skills of football organized athletics, volleyball, taekwondo among other games under the Seventh National Games.
While Eastern Region had claimed men's football gold eight years ago in the capital, Surendra Tamang had led the team as captain during the fifth edition of the Games. On the occasion Eastern Region had overcame Armed Police Force 1-0 in the gold medal clash. Buddha Chemjong had netted the only goal in the final set by Surendra. Current member secretary of the National Sports Council (NSC) Keshab Kumar Bista was then president of the Eastern Regional Sports Development Committee.
Surendra had led the team on the football ground in the fifth edition of the Games and Bista had led the administration. Coincidentally both of them are the locals of Itahari. The difference between them in the seventh edition of the Games is Bista has become the executive head of sports authority of the country while Surendra has hanged up his boot since the last three years.
"The life of footballer remains only until his physique supports him. One must break his relation with ground after getting older. Unlike that, the political player gain more importance along with time," said an emotional Surendra. "However, in my cast I cannot remain away from sports though I cannot play now. I wish I could have entered the ground as player while in the National Games which was being held in my region. Had the national games been held on biennial basis I could have played at my home ground while I was in peak of my form. However, I was not that fortunate."
Surendra was not in the team due to injuries during Sixth National Games held in 2011 in Far Western Region. When National Games was being held at his home town he had already retired from active playing career. He was excited in 2011 after the baton for next edition was passed to Eastern Region five years ago though he could not feature as a player. He was happy that he could contribute for the Games as a local.
"It was natural for me to get excited after Eastern Region was given the responsibility to host next game in 2011," he said who is also the Sunsari president of Nepal National and International Players Association. "Deepak Bista (former taekwondo player) and other players were mobilized during the Sixth National Games in Far Western Region. We also wanted to play active role here during the current National Games. We had expected that our expertise would be used but we were not included anywhere."
Though Surendra wasn't given any formal responsibility by NSC, he was no less active in the Games than any other official of the organizing committee. He was busy in interaction with the sportsperson from across the country, listening to their problems and also trying to find solutions on his own. He returned his home late every evening after his busy scheduled beginning early morning.
"It has been three years that I have not been playing and also I am a bit of outsider from sports. But players arrived here from across the country and I got chance to meet them after long time. I played the role of a mediator to solve their problems as a local of Itahari," he said.
"I am quite happy that National Games was held in my region but it is really disappointing that the condition of players has never changed. It feels really sad to see pathetic condition of players," said an emotional Surendra. "Some didn't have good lodging while others had to run without shoes," he said in a frustrated note.
After being enrolled to football giant Three Star in 2000, he traded footballing skills for the team for a decade. He won numerous titles including A division league. The forward was known for his quickness and goal scoring ability. He was also a forward of the national squad for six years. He is only one among two footballers of Nepal to reach 50 goals milestone in modern domestic football league after Basanta Thapa.