Nepali players have demonstrated excellent performance in ongoing 13th South Asian Games (SAG) happening in three main cities of the country—Janakpur, Pokhara and Kathmandu. As of this writing, Nepali players have grabbed as many as 20 golds and several silvers and bronzes. Players like Anu Adhikari, Ayesha Shakya, Swastika Tamang and Seena Limbu have done us proud. Nepal leads all other countries in most events and we hope Nepali players will be able to perform excellently well in the days to come too. How much playing or performing on home ground affects the outcomes is something that has been discussed worldwide. Often, players tend to excel due to large fan following and cheers they receive from audience while playing in home country. But in the ongoing SAG, home ground is not only the factor. Nepali players have done well in most of the games—including cricket and football—even while playing outside of the country. In cricket, in particular, they have proved that they are no less than other players of the region or the world when it comes to securing win for the country. Large number of golds that Nepal has secured in the SAG tells an inspiring story for Nepali sports. This inspiration is something Nepal needs to capitalize and pass on.
Come of think of it, Nepali players do not enjoy the same level of facilities and perks their counterparts in other countries do. Because of inadequate efforts to professionalize and develop sportsmanship, most Nepali players do not see future in sports. Which is why given the opportunity, they quit sports and leave the country. The recent case in point is sudden departure of gold medal hopeful Tulsa KC on the eve of SAG. She left for Qatar on Friday in search of a better future. In a letter she sent to her coach Chandra Bahadur Gurung, she admitted that she “had a passion to represent Nepal” but she had no option to leave “to make my life better.” It is clear that KC would not have taken this decision if she saw the future in Nepali sports and within Nepal. KC’s is a representative case. Many other sportspersons might leave the country, or totally give up on sports, if they do not see future here. Besides, our sports sector has long been mired in corruption and controversies. Sports regulating bodies rarely find competent officials to work in them. With politicization in such appointments, these bodies have rarely been efficient enough. Our sports infrastructure and training facilities have not been well maintained. The government geared up for completing construction of infrastructures for SAG in the eleventh hour and, thankfully, completed the work too but if we go about in infrastructure construction in such a slow pace, we cannot expect better future in sports.
Despite these problems, our players have proved their mettle by showing excellent performance in the first three days of SAG. Thus they have sent a clear message that they are capable of taking sports to new height if they are provided environment for proper training and if they are ensured that their future is secure here in Nepal. Let us be proud of Nepal shining bright in SAG but let us also not forget that Nepal as a nation has still a lot to do to create enabling environment for our sports fraternity to rise and shine. Impressive performance in early days of SAG should make us optimistic of our sporting caliber but it should also trigger soul-searching in sports governing bodies to correct the shortcomings and come up better plans to encourage sports stars to do much better in the days to come.