August 12, 2016 02:00 AM NPT
By: Kalu Maila
The Rio Olympics is in full swing and, as usual, our athletes who have been selected will come back home without any medals. We really do not expect much from our athletes in such international events because we know that we lack the resources, infrastructure and everything else needed to compete in the international level. So to expect our athletes to win an Olympic Gold is like expecting KP Oli to send a Nepali to Mars on a rickshaw. It is not going to happen anytime soon but it’s good to dream and sometimes dreams do come true but only if we work hard to fulfill them.
Our government does not care about sports. Well, our government actually doesn’t care about anything other than how to steal from the national coffer. We have the National Sports Council (NSC), also known as No Sports Council, because the person heading the organization is a political appointee and he or she will only think about how to siphon off the organization’s budget instead of helping to develop sports and provide opportunities and resources to our athletes.
We have hundreds of sports organizations in the country and most of them are headed by people who were never active in sports. A guy in my neighborhood is a district committee member of ANFA, the football body in our country. He has never played football in his life. He only knows how to flatter the ‘high-profile’ people while ignoring everyone else. He doesn’t even know much about international football except Pele and Maradona. Pele last played in the 70s and it’s been more than twenty years since Maradona hung up his boots and started putting on weight. I think he knows Messi but of course who doesn’t.
I bet that the people running the athletics association can’t even jog let alone run a 5 km race. Even if you are not an athlete, at least do something good for the association you are heading. We have so many sports bodies in this country and half of them do not even conduct any sports activities at all. The people in such organizations are in it not to develop their respective sports but to wait for international sports bodies to send them free air tickets and stipend so that they can attend conferences abroad.
Yes, politics is everywhere and nearly all of our so-called chairpersons of such sports organizations are politically affiliated. And major sports associations seem to have factions and even two different organizations fighting with each other over who is the authentic one and who is not. We even had two different Olympics Committees until sometime ago. The IOC, the main Olympics body recognized one while our Supreme Court said the other one was the real one. And everybody was confused about which one was the one and which one was not. I hope the controversy is over now and our so-called saviors can go back to help our athletes instead of only helping themselves.
The last and the only time we ever won any medals was in Seoul when Bidhan Lama won us a bronze in Taekwondo even though it was just a demonstration event. This time around, we had the youngest athlete ever in the Olympics and we are happy that Gaurika Singh won her heat even though she stood 31st among 34 athletes. Our athletes in other sports also failed to advance to the next round in their respective events. Well, they did their best and we should be proud of them.
So when will we win another Olympic medal? Well, with the way things are going in the country, we might even fail to win a Gold in SAG Games. Every time there is an international sports event, we send more officials than athletes. It seems that even those athletes who are selected for such events are not allowed to participate if they are not politically affiliated or do not have folks who have connections with our officials. A few years ago, we heard about how one of our athletes had to participate in a sports event abroad after her coach bought her the tickets and she came back home with a Gold.
Our so-called sports officials have no shame. They are happy with the way things are going because if that changes then our athletes will get the resources to do better, but it will be the end of free lunch for our officials. We have a new government now and let’s hope that our new Youth and Sports Minister will actually do something for the youth and sports in this country rather than only making sure how to make some money from the budget and sending his own people to attend sports events overseas like they won a vacation package for their loyalty.
Yes, India has a billion or so people and they still can’t get it right but it’s about time we stop comparing ourselves with our neighbors. Iceland has shown us that a country with less than half a million people can defeat England in the recent Euro Championship. I think the first thing we need to do is to learn a thing or two from the Vikings. How about starting with their ‘war’ chant? It seems that even the Vikings actually got inspired from Scottish football fans and it really doesn’t have any Viking roots.
So, let us hope that our folks in higher authorities are inspired by the performance of athletes from other countries and come out with a policy that helps to groom athletes from an early age so that they can compete with the rest of the world and win us a medal or two in the future. And then we can all do the ‘Thunderclap’ as we greet our heroes who come back home with a Gold! And even if they don’t win a medal, we can still do it because at least they have fulfilled their Olympic Dreams and we are still proud of them.