Sahara Club President Bir Bhadra Acharya (C) speaks during a press conference on the eve of the Aaha-Rara Gold Cup Football Tournament in Pokhara, Kaski, on Sunday.
POKHARA, Jan 16: The 15th edition of the annual Aaha-Rara Gold Cup Football Tournament will begin on Tuesday at the Pokhara Stadium in Kaski. The inter-club invitational tournament which will conclude on January 28 will see participation of 12 teams, according to organizer Sahara Club of Pokhara.
Organizing a press conference on Tuesday, Club President Bir Bhadra Acharya informed that all preparations for the tournament was over. The tournament will feature three teams from abroad and nine teams of the country including big guns of A Division.
ANA Football Team from USA, Sikkim United of West Bengal, India and Farashganj Sports Club of Bangladesh are the foreign teams to compete in the tournament. Similarly, departmental teams Armed Police Force, Tribhuvan Army Club and Nepal Police Club besides Sankata Club and Manang Marshyangdi Club will be the premier division teams of the country to vie in the tournament. Far West XI, Dharan Football Club, Jhapa XI and host Sahara are the other participating teams.
According to Acharya, ANA will feature Non Residential Nepalis in America. “We have been initiating to bring better foreign teams in every edition. However, some teams cancelled their participation at the last moment. However, we are hopeful that all foreign teams are strong,” he said.
The winner and the runner up teams of the tournament will bag purse of Rs 501,000 and Rs 251,000 respectively along with trophies and medals. The best player of the tournament will be awarded a scooter. Similarly, the best players in four positions - goalkeeping, defense, midfield and forward - as well as the coach will be rewarded with Rs 15,000. The highest scorer will get Rs 25,000.
The aim of the tournament is to develop Pokhara as a sports hub and contribute in production of talented players. “Some skillful players do not get platform to show their talents and we are hopeful that this tournament will provide them a platform,” Acharya said.
Recalling the struggling period during initial editions of the tournament, Surya Bahadur KC, the president of chief sponsor Himshree Foods, said that the tournament has emerged as one of the most popular events in the country and vowed to continue support in the upcoming editions as well.
The savings from the tournament will be spent in running the academy of the club, according to Acharya. The Sahara Club Academy has been providing education and accommodation besides providing football training to 28 underprivileged children from 16 districts.
Sahara will erect a temporary parapet having capacity to accommodate 1,000 spectators.
Even, the VIP parapet will not be able to accommodate full capacity (500) spectators. The nearly four decade old stadium has not been repaired despite being damaged by 2015 April earthquake. “The VIP parapet of the stadium damaged by the earthquake has not been repaired or renovated. Fearing worst, we did not let full capacity spectators in last edition. We were hopeful the stadium would be renovated by now. But the renovation work has not started yet,” Acharya said.
“Until the last edition we had made temporary parapet of 500 spectators capacity. But we will expand it to 1000 seats this time,” he said.