Nepali football has failed to impress anyone over the years, but is this the worst ever phase for the country?
2013 – I was watching the Nepali football side take on Afghanistan to book a place in the final of SAFF Championships.
Football was ringing a lot of bells around the country, with Nepal impressive in the tournament with India and Bangladesh.
The stadium was full and the crowd waved the Nepalese flag to push their side to the first ever SAFF Championships final.
Unluckily, Nepal weren’t able to capitalize on their home support and lost their chance to play the final at their own turf.
Personally, I took more positives than negatives from the competition. As hosts, it was apparent how popular football was within the country. The team had young faces, ready to develop and build for the future.
However, four years on, a corruption scandal later – perhaps, Nepali football is in it’s biggest sorry state ever.
Anil Gurung, who recently retired from international football, agreed back in March.
He said: “This is the worst period for football as we don’t have proper domestic football structure, no league and stadium to play.”
The Nepali football faced a major setback when a number of it’s high-profile senior players were found to be involved in a massive corruption scandal.
The nation jeered and the players got banned. But, the impacts were bigger than anyone initially thought. With corruption and political involvement rapid within the sport, it’s losing popularity within the country day by day.
Where’s the league structure?
Every year, an ANFA official calls for a support to domestic football in raising the viewership of Nepali football. It’s a common theme for any speech that a professional footballer or an ANFA member makes in Nepal.
The truth, though, lies on the details. No one will watch domestic football in Nepal, unless the governing body creates a sense of appeal towards it.
In the world of fast and expansive football, we cannot expect our audience to begin starting domestic games for the sake of it.
It’s a gradual process – but there should be proper structure and consistency for it to work. It won’t do the football in the country any good if the domestic league structure is just non-existent.
Besides, the lure of supporting the local city teams often attract people. In Nepal, majority of the club-football teams are based on several sections of the Kathmandu city only.
It’s important for ANFA to bring more diversity within the teams and indulge in proper marketing of it’s tournaments to create a more definitive attraction.
While our neighboring countries are pouring millions of dollars on new recruits and league expansion, we don’t even have a proper league structure.
Our scouting network is non-existent, while the lack of national league has created a scarcity of new talents. The poor state just makes us step back further when our neighbors are pushing on for improvements.