KATHMANDU, August 1: Nepali volleyball, which was once in a sorry state, is picking up the pieces to rise in the country’s sports arena. The game has taken a respectable height after it was declared Nepal’s national game.
The sport has got support from both the government and non-government sectors.
Corporate houses and private sponsors, who were once reluctant to invest in volleyball, are now seeking opportunity to promote the sport.
Following declaration of the game as a national sport in May 23, 2017, there has been a sense of encouragement in the players and the volleyball authorities. However, despite the national recognition, there are issues to be addressed in volleyball.
First, the sport has to come clean of the criticisms that it is facing in recent times. Nepali volleyball was first criticized when authorities failed to hold election for the post of vice-president of Nepal Volleyball Association (NVA) for long. When the election was held, it was only nine months before the tenure would end.
Second, there was dispute regarding selection of the preliminary squad for women’s volleyball for the 13th South Asian Games (SAG). Captain Binita Budathoki and Vice-Captain Manju Gurung were not selected for the 25-member preliminary squad.
Budathoki and Gurung have been claiming that not being included in the team was injustice to them. “We worked hard all our lives, but the volleyball association has now disrespected us,” they said.
However, the association defended its decision by saying the senior players were not included in the squad because of their age. But, Budathoki and Gurung were not ready to accept the explanation.
Third, there has recently been a case of ‘mental torture’ to a noted volleyball player, which troubles the image of the national sport. The departmental team Tribhuvan Army Club halted training of Niruta Thagunna, who is in the preliminary squad.
Army did not let her train for the 13th SAG, blaming her for not coming in contact with the club for a month without the club’s information. Army has been preparing to charge Thagunna as a player who acts arbitrarily.
Thagunna, however, has been posting in her social media about how she is being treated, stating that it was the reason she did not come in contact with the team.
“I came to Kathmandu carrying big dreams, but someone ruined my life. My dream has been destroyed. I am not being able to think what to do,” Thagunna, posted on her Facebook a week ago.
In the same post, Thagunna also wrote: “Yes, I came to Kathmandu to play volleyball. My mother and father are with me. Where are my dreams? My dream was to play for the Nepal team, but I might not get to play because of the devil. My life has been ruined, but I will not take his name. I will tell everything afterward.”
She posted another status on Monday and hinted she was in a big problem and there has been pressure to hide the incident. “There are many people who say they are there for you, but no one helps when you are in need. Let’s see what the time will say that,” she wrote.
“Niruta is a player of our department. She was on a holiday, but it has been 40 to 50 days she last came into our contact. That’s the reason she is in the list of runaway Army,” said Sashi Karan Raymajhi, chief of Nepal Army Sports Department.
“We have already directed to arrest Niruta wherever we find her in Nepal. She needs to get the clearance from Army before playing from anywhere else. Otherwise, we will carry further actions. It’s not possible for her to train with the national team until she comes into contact with us,” Rayamajhi added.
“We don’t have any information regarding the issues that have come in the media. If she was treated harshly by anyone and it’s proved, they will be punished,” Raymajhi further added.
However, other volleyball authorities have been claiming that they are unaware about this issue. Even the National Sports Council (NSC) is silent in this case.
One official with the volleyball association, who did not wish to be named, said that cases like these have ‘polluted’ the national game of Nepal. He said that the association made mistake on the selection of the players, adding that remaining silent on the injustice to players pushes the game into big crisis.
“They are just not respecting the players who have spent all their lives for the game, but also are doing them injustice,” he added. “If such situation persists, volleyball will go to coma again.”