National Games concludes, fails in its ultimate goal

Published On: January 2, 2017 08:44 AM NPT By: AJAY PHUYAL

DHARAN, Jan 2:The biggest sports festival of the country, National Games, is three and a half decades old. The event that began in 1981 and supposed to be organized on biennial basis should have seen 17 editions of the games in 35 years. But political instability, least priority to sports by state mechanism and lack of strong commitment by sports administration have resulted in organizing only seven editions of the Games so far. 

Moreover, every edition has failed in its original ambitions set before the games. One of the major aims of the Games was also to develop physical infrastructures besides hosting numerous sports event at a centralized venue. Then leadership of the National Sports Council (NSC) had organized National Games to bring talented players together and provide them opportunity to display their talents going through district, regional and national level. It was also supposed to be a vital part of sports development.

The Eastern Region organized National Games for the first time while the capital city has hosted the event twice including the inaugural edition. Pokhara, Birgunj, Nepalgunj and Far Western Region (Dhangadhi and Kailali) hosted it one time each. The first three editions of the Games were held on biennial basis as per its ambition. While the second edition was held in Pokhara in 1983 the following edition was held in Birgunj. The fourth edition which took place 13 years later was held in Nepalgunj in 1998. The fifth edition declared to be held in Far Western Region was shifted to the capital and happed only after a decade in 2008 amidst host of controversies. 

However, three years later, the sixth (last) edition was organized in Far Western Region. Though it was organized a year later than the scheduled time, it was somewhat close to its ambition of infrastructure development. Besides expanding Dhangadhi Stadium, construction of cricket ground and maintenance of covered hall were also the major achievements on infrastructural development.    

The Seventh National Games that concluded Friday failed in all other ambitions besides providing platform for players. In terms of regularity, it was organized three years later than it was supposed to be held. Eastern Region could not benefit in terms of infrastructural development since only Rs two million was allocated under the head. 

Eastern Regional Sports Development Committee Vice President Shankar Rai said that the Games could not be a matter of happiness for the region due to lack of proper planning. “The games was organized in a rush. It would have been much better had it been organized taking more time with proper planning. It was mismanaged and not a single infrastructure was constructed which would could provide long term benefit to sports sector of the region. Rather than the long term benefit for sports fraternity, the NSC leadership was focused only on finishing the game by hook or crook. They neither gave importance to dignity and unity nor development of the region.”

Vice President of All Nepal Football Association Kishor Rai who has been involved in football since more than two decades said that the mismanaged and chaotic National Games was the outcome of NSC leaderships’ policy of unilaterally controlling the sports of the country. “None of the local sportsperson were included in the Games. Those who have contributions in sports since decades were sidelined from the games after allocation of roles on the basis of political background,” Rai said. “Rather than a grand National Games, it became the poorest and most mismanaged among all games held so far,” he vented his frustrations.  

Local hotel entrepreneur Kishor Prasad Khanal commented that the biggest sports festival of the country ended without any achievements amidst boycott by the biggest political party of the nation. Talking with his customers on Friday evening, he said, “The Games has tarnished the image of the country nationwide due to weak management of National Sports Council and there was no development of sports at all. I thought there would have been development along with the National Games.”

Nepali Congress Morang chapter boycotted the National Games claiming that NSC led by CPN-UML had acted unilaterally. There was a tense situation and disputes in the inaugural ceremony attended by President Bidya Devi Bhandari between sports wings of Nepali Congress and CPN-UML.   

“Sports play the role of unification, but the Seventh National Games has created division. There has to be at least few infrastructural development during any major sports event, but this time it did not happen in the Eastern Region,” said Basanta Aryal of Biratnagar who is also the executive committee member of ANFA.  “Neither we were able to demonstrate prosperous Eastern Region in the Games nor we were able to get any new infrastructure that could have long-term impact. We will be tagged in the history as the weakest organizer of the National Games. And the NSC leadership must take responsibility for this.”

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