Nepalese Cricket team has won the World Cricket League Division three recently. They have achieved what is one of the pinnacles of Nepalese sports as a whole.
But even with the title, the players expressed their dissatisfaction towards the governing body. Next season, it will be the first time Nepal Cricket team will play in World Cricket League Division Two.
While cricket is Nepal is flourishing, progress of football is heading the opposite direction.
Why Indian Super league?
Rather than AIFF (All Indian Football Federation), the rich and famous in India came forward for a common goal of taking India to the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
The rich and famous have bought all the big names from European football. Most players have dreamt only to play with or against these superstars. Both media and fans alike have supported this dream.
The media has now turned the unsung heroes into superstars of Indian football.
If the tournament would continue till the dawn of 2026 World Cup, it is conceivable that India could prepare its best eleven that could take on any challenge.
But just across the northern border it is not the case.
Nepalese football is like a monsoon
Nepalese football comes alive once a year and then goes for a long rest. The A Division League has finished on March and it seems like it has been many years since that spell.
If we look at many league structures, the players rarely have a break it is because once a fitness or form is lost, a total value of the player is lost. Everything is not only physics but also chemistry.
Nepalese players does not have continual play throughout the year thus it is certain that players lose their shape, form and fitness during this gap period.
A player is meant to have rest only after they have retired but it is not the case in Nepal.
No professionalism, no amateur football?
There is no distinct structure in the Nepalese football scene. To survive, the players have to rely on regional competitions like Gold Cup all across the country. Even with the Gold Cup, the players represent more than two teams within a year.
Everyone knows that every player or team develops by understanding teammates and manager's strategy and tactics. But if you are playing with different players, for different teams and under different managers you cannot quite yield the result.
For example, you sign a contract with a team and then you go to play Gold Cup in some part of country. You train with new players, coach and different strategy. If you are lucky you are picked up in starting eleven. You travel on a bus with a public to the location where you play.
And if you lose on the first match on a Gold Cup, you go home with nothing. You have trained with new players under new management and you are out of the competition after the first match. Then you wait if there will be another Gold Cup. Unfortunately this is the case in Nepal. And this is killing the clubs, players and football altogether.
And we fans expect the best out the national team while there is not a process where players can become the world challengers.
India plans for 2026 World Cup Entry, what about Nepal?
We cannot compare with India economically, financially as well as market growth. It would be impractical as we are mainly the consumers of India. But when it comes to football we are not that far behind in terms of FIFA Rankings. India is ranked 159 while Nepal is 179.
If we compare last four matches, Nepal has lost all without scoring and conceding 10 in a process. India was unbeaten in last three, won one and scored seven goals in last four matches. This infers that Indian team are relatively strong than Nepalese football team.
Indian rich and famous came together to rescue their football team but for Nepalese it must be like a fairy tale.
We have to admit now that Nepalese team and the governing bodies are complacent and don't have any long-running plans for the future. It seems like Nepal is looking forward only to participate as a formality.
But Nepal U17 looks good
Unanimously Nepal U17 is a team we all are proud and possibly can yield results. But reality is different. Nepal U17 is built around the players from ANFA. The players grew together playing and understands each other. They don't have a responsibility of communicating with other players and other teams. And ANFA has to release the players once other clubs signs them. It is no doubt ANFA would develop players but for international stage ANFA is not enough. You cannot rely on a single academy to challenge the best in the world.
Another reality is once a club signs a player from ANFA, he would have to follow the footsteps of the same pattern if not changed. He has to play League for few months and then have to wait for different Gold Cups to be organised. He has to play for different clubs if his own club does not participate in Gold Cups, which have limited entries of clubs. Thus it is reasonable that the outstanding players of Nepal U17 might lose its shape, skill and fitness after ANFA releases it.
It would be unrealistic for us to copy the format of competitions in the other countries. We have to play by our own potential and resources. The challenge is not to produce best players but to conserve them. And conservation comes only when the organisers understand the business model that works for Nepal.
At the moment, the tournaments are held only as an obligation and there is no maturity in it. Otherwise it is highly probable that our target would always be the SAFF Championships and not beyond.