How Nepal successfully organized first SAG when Bangladesh, India shied away

Published On: July 20, 2019 08:05 AM NPT By: Sanjay Thapa

KATHMANDU, July 20: Nepal has been preparing to organize the 13th South Asian Games (SAG) in the country. 

Despite the government concentrating all its efforts in the preparations of the international event to be organized in December, sports officials and supporters are still uncertain whether or not the authorities will be able to organize the games. Having been postponed a couple of times, many are still doubtful.  

The sports authorities’ dilemma is natural as construction of some of the necessary physical infrastructure has not been completed so far. And, that has raised a big question whether the results will come in Nepal’s favor. 

This, however, is not the first time that Nepal failed to organize a big tournament in time. Also, there are also examples when Nepal organized major tournaments successfully which were said to be next to impossible to make everything happen under the then circumstances. 

Nepal had organized the first edition of the SAG in September of 1984. Originally, Bangladesh was offered to organize the edition as per the alphabetical order. But, Bangladesh did not show the interest to organize the tournament and India was given the chance. But, they did not give a positive response too. 

So, Nepal took over the responsibility to organize the tournament in the very first edition as there was a dilemma whether the games will be organized at all. 

There was only one stadium in which the games was played. It was also played in the grounds of departmental sides Nepal Police Club and Tribhuvan Army Club. Only five games—football, athletics, swimming, boxing and weightlifting—were included in the games. 

At that time, since there was a doubt that even four teams might not participate in football, the Nepali representatives went to Maldives to convince the country to take part in the tournament. The then All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) President Kamal Thapa was also the National Sports Council (NSC) board member at the time. 

Thapa and the then Rastriya Panchayat member Deepak Bohora were successful to convince Maldives team to take part in the tournament bearing all the expenses by the host country Nepal.

A defender in his playing time, Thapa later became able to rise in national politics as well. 
He learnt the leadership quality during his career in sports as he took leadership positions in various national sports bodies such as ANFA, NSC, Asian Football Confederation (AFC). That apparently helped Thapa to take key positions in government, political party and other bodies. 
Thapa later became active also in tennis. 

Not just in national level, Thapa became successful in international tennis tournaments as well. He played in the veteran’s category. He has won international medals in veteran’s category even in the recent years.

He has won medals in Indian, Bhutan and Thailand that shows how a person can do well in the multiple sectors if one has the will power.

“I was a good student and wanted to be a doctor. Baburam Bhattarai and Upendra Devkota were my classmates. But, I switched to politics. Sports and politics has brought me here,’’ Thapa, who is now the President of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party said. 

Thapa, who became minister several times including home minister and deputy prime minister, claims that he possesses sportsmanship spirit more than any other politicians of the country. He however failed to contribute much to the sports sector despite serving as minister many times. 
Thapa became minister during party-less Panchayat system, during the multiparty system reinstated after 1990’s popular movement, during direct rule of King Gyanendra and also during the republic system established after the popular movement in 2005.

“I could not give priority and make notable contribution to the sports sector. That is shortcomings on my part,’’ Thapa said. “When I was in the government, I used to take leadership of the party. No one brought any kind of proposal related to sports to me. And I could not focus and make efforts for the betterment of this sector on my own.’’

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