Saturday, June 11, 2011

Opportunities waiting, will we cash?

Just a few days before we enjoyed the high-voltage drama for extension of Constituent Assembly tenure on most national TV channels, we ignored a small matter of one A division Football Club's plight of not finding sponsors. Needless to say, the club was not from the valley that is hub to everything that matters in the country, be it political frictions, sporting actions or financial transactions.
The plight of the club went mostly unheeded, except for a few sympathetic journos, who got a few more bylines in print. Interestingly, this is not the only club that is facing financial crunch. With the football season at full swing, most clubs are facing the heat, as expenses are rising and incomes fall short. We knew its possibility, but failed take action on time. An opportunity missed.
But what would you expect, as the National Sports Council – the apex Sports body in the country – itself is incomplete. The Joint Secretary from Ministry of Sports (and not Member-Secretary) heads it on ad-hoc basis. The Board at NSC has not been formed as it awaits political appointments. The present government is 4 months old and will be, in most likelihood, replaced by another one, anytime soon. And as a norm, first few weeks of the government never has sport in its To-do list. It's not difficult to know what will happen of NSC, whose patron – The Prime Minister – himself is counting days in power. Another opportunity missed.
Flashback to 2008: Just before the elections for the Constituent Assembly, the sport aficionados were excited that most major parties had included sports in their election manifestos. The fanatics started dreaming. Two plus years later, the National Games was deferred, since Dhangadhi was not readied on time to host the event. That was supposed to be early this year. Despite deferral, no new date was announced. We had more important things to do. Yet another opportunity missed.
As we stand in the middle of 2011, another year – another set of opportunity - is waiting. The year 2012. The year of Olympics. The year of 12th South Asian Games. These would require preparation. Even if the preparation doesn't start now, the planning will have to be started now. In the 11th South Asian Games, in Dhaka, Nepal just nudged ahead of Afghanistan by 2 gold medals. It should be noted that Bhutan and the Maldives did not get any medal. Slackness in planning could mean that we'd be the last one among gold medal winners. Will the opportunity be missed?
Another issue that many have yet to talk about, given our habit of last minute preparations, is the 13th South Asian Games. It is Nepal's turn to host the event in 2014. And the question would be: Are we ready for it?
If the engineers from NSC are to be believed (and who else are to be believed here), our sport infrastructure are accidents waiting to happen. Apart from few cosmetic changes in 1999 South Asian Games, we've not had any renovation of the infrastructure. Even if we do not build new stadia for the next SAG, major overhaul of infrastructure would be necessary. This is the second decade of 21st century and even technology has progressed by leaps and bounds in the sector. Improvement of the facilities is but mandatory. We've had enough fun complaining while watching Indian media reports on 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Could it be our turn to be laughed at?
Here, we could do well to remember recent corruption scandal in FIFA. They were centered around which country is the World Cup awarded to. Explains, why countries attach so much of pride with multi-nation sporting events. Needless to say what it does to the economic growth of the nation. That's the stuff economists and planners to look at. The politicos, who talk of national pride at the bat of an eyelid, perhaps should know the value of it.
And unless the planners believe in Mayan prophecy that the world would end by December, 2012, they better not procrastinate. After all, how many opportunities can we miss?
(The write-up was published in the weekly column of Yours Truly in The Kathmandu Post on 11th June, 2011)

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