Thursday, 29 September, 2022

PM's Assurance Makes Sports Sector optimistic


Pramod Joshi


Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in an interaction with sports stakeholders held recently affirmed the sports is also one of the productive sectors of the nation. At the same interaction, he pledged the government's support for the development of the sports much to the delight of sports persons and organisations.
Sports, generally, have been looked at as the unproductive sector in our nation. When the nation is hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was thought that the sports would not be in the government's priority. The declaration of sports being a productive sector by Prime Minister has made the sports sector optimist about its quick revival.
Moreover, PM Oli also assured the budget increment for the sports sector and promised a full-fledged support for the recovery of the sports sector.
Had there not been the dreaded pandemic, the domestic sports of Nepal in the year 2077 B.S. could have been a livelier affair following the success of the 13th South Asian Games held last year in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Janakpur.

Historic gold medals
The historical gold medals won in the South Asian sporting fiesta would have a morale-boosting influence on the players participating in national and international tournaments. Unfortunately, the colossal impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic disrupted nearly every aspect of life all over the globe. Sports remained no exception.
To minimise the spread of the novel coronavirus, the governments imposed a nationwide lockdown and travel restrictions. Prioritising the health of all athletes and peoples, the world's sports governing bodies like FIFA, ICC, IOC postponed or scrapped several international matches and events. Our government followed the suit and decided to defer all the sporting activities and tournaments over the coronavirus threat.
Nepal's matches of the Qatar World Cup Qualifiers, Tri-Nation Cricket Series of ICC World Cup League 2 and participation in the Tokyo Olympic 2020, Asian Volleyball Championship were also postponed. As a result, domestic football, cricket, volleyball, basketball leagues and other tournaments were deferred too.
Had there been no pandemic, this time around the preparation for the 10th National Games have been going on in full swing in Gandaki Province. Players would have been preparing throughout the nation for the Games slated to be held in March. However, the sporting activities started taking place in the nation after a long break following the government health protocols.

Construction gain momentum
Though the sporting activities stood still for months, the government has not stopped the construction work of sports infrastructure. It has distributed the budget for the constructions, up-gradation and maintenance of the sports infrastructures for 140 urban and rural municipalities. The Ministry for the Youth and Sports has distributed the budget of Rs. 2.5 to 3 million to those municipalities. For that purpose, NSC has signed the contract with the local consumer committee to give the momentum to the construction and up-gradation of the sports infrastructures all over the nation.
Moreover, the construction of the Pokhara international stadium has also come to almost completion. The stadium was under construction when it hosted the women's football during the 13th SAG.
The Covid-19 Lockdown did not halt the work of the stadium building and now the stadium is in a ready state to hold both the indoor and outdoor games. International football ground, well-facilitated multipurpose covered hall, badminton court, volleyball court, tennis court and cricket ground are well equipped inside the stadium.
Besides, Prime Minister has also promised to construct the Volleyball's Covered Hall within two years. He has asked the NSC to accelerate the work of the Mulpani Cricket Stadium.

New Sports Law
The new Sports Development Act-2077 also came into effect this year. Member Secretary of National Sports Council (NSC) Ramesh Kumar Silwal has been re-appointed to the post from open competition for the first time as per the new Act. Before this, the appointment of the member-secretary was being made at the direct recommendation of the Ministry.
The new law also set criteria for the member-secretary candidate, who should be at least 30 years, BA pass and have at least five-year working experience in the sports sector. The new sports law has made a provision of a three-member committee for the recommendation of the Member Secretary.
Curtailing the power of the Member Secretary, the Act also made provision of the executive committee to run the national sport's governing body. The Act also prohibited the employees of the Council from taking any post in the sports associations. The Act also fixed the definition of a national and international athlete.

Rewards to players
To motivate the players, the government has been doing its utmost. It has been honouring the international medalists with National Talent Awards. The government has also been providing the incentive allowance to the Olympians, Asian Games medallists and South Asian Game Gold medallists.
After the appointment of the new Sports Minister Dawa Lama Tamang, the incentives allowance, which has been delayed for six months, is deposited in the players' bank accounts. Tamang has also formed the 7-member committee to make the working procedure for the distribution of the incentives allowance to the players.
The government received t applauds in appreciation for holding the 13th SAG successfully. Kudos to the players whose hard work helped win the highest number of gold medals in the regional sporting extravaganza. Nepal bagged 206 medals including 51 gold with 60 silver and 95 bronze medals.
However, we need not be satisfied with the success achieved in the 13th SAG. As our Prime Minister said we need to go miles despite making historic success. Let us hope there would not be any grudges from players that lack of proper training resulted in their loss. Nepal's sports gain the height of achievement as Prime Minister has promised to provide good coach, the latest technology and sports equipment for the training of the players.

(Joshi is a TRN journalist)