Nepali Basketball predicaments

Nepal Basketball Men's national team training_01

Basketball players and coaches continue training sessions in preparation for the upcoming South Asian Games amid the usual predicaments.

Decades have passed since the inception of Nepal Basketball Association (NeBA); yet there isn’t a permanent home for Nepali Basketball. Not even a guarantee of a basic training court.

High ranking government officials keep talking about bringing pride to the nation and all — through sport, but all they had to show for was a covered hall; shared by many sports; completely neglected; and barely fit enough to hold any event.

Nevertheless, Basketball national team had at least somewhere to train, even if it meant playing in dark conditions most of the time. And off course dodging occasional poop bombs from the flying rats (pigeons) on the roof.

But, ever since the April 25 earthquake, even that’s not an option. Floor was damaged, walls were cracked rendering the covered hall unfit for use. Eight months — no repairs; sports authorities — not bothered. Do they care? Who knows!!

There is an arrangement to train at the Nepal Army training centre at Lagankhel for the men’s team; but it is not available at suitable hours. Understandably, the Army do have to train themselves.

However, mid-day training means, the players are having to compromise on their day jobs or college education. That is just not fair.

Besides, if Thursday’s training session is anything to go by, it certainly isn’t going to work. Mid-way through the training the staff started swiping the stands covering the entire hall in dust. Unfortunately, players had to abandon training for a while until dust settled. I could still feel the dust in my breadth right towards the end of the session.

Sushil Gurung
Sushil Gurung, trying to avoid the dust.

I’m sure it wasn’t anything intentional from the army staff. At the end of the day, they have to do their job; but it did hamper training. I should mention that the training did go smooth on Friday.

As for women’s team, they are training at Prime College; and do enjoy a bit more flexibility in terms of practice time. That doesn’t mean they don’t have to compromise though.

Surprisingly, neither coaches are complaining about it.

Men’s national team head coach Dinesh Nakarmi and assistant coach Biku Maharjan told me that they are just grateful that the Nepal Army were providing the facility for now.

Nepal Basketball Men's national team training
Players and assistant coach, Biku Maharjan discussing current issues.

Some of you might be thinking, they’ve got somewhere to train and anything is better than nothing…So what’s to complain about? Well I saw, why should they compromise? After all they’re playing for the nation. Is that all that a nation can do?

We are poor, no doubt. But over the last few years the government has allocated over a billion rupees each year to sports sector and 2.07 billion rupees this fiscal year. That’s a lot of money. Where does it all go?

Budget allocation for NeBA I keep hearing was Rs 150,000 per year in the past few years; not sure if this figure is correct, if it is you’ve got to laugh at it.

However, that is not an excuse, because NeBA should be generating it’s own income.

I’m told by some people closer to NeBA that it has done a great job over the last few years. Frankly, I’m not convinced.

There is marketability, but so far we haven’t heard of a good sponsorship deal any major event that NeBA has organised. So finding a one off training kit sponsor is a tall order.

We’ve heard that from now on, National basketball teams are allowed to carry sponsor logos in the front of their jersies; is there anything on the pipeline… well NeBA certainly haven’t made any announcements. They might just come up with the usual excuse…no body is interested.

And before anybody claims of basketball not having commercial value, let me remind you that Ncell Cup was organised by people who had nothing to do with basketball and they found partnership with one of the biggest businesses in the country. So why can’t NeBA?

Getting back to the team training, despite the issues aforementioned and the problems brought on by the current political unrest, players are giving in their best — hoping to get on the plane (or a bus depending on the budget) to the South Asian Games in India.

However, for some the dream is already over. Past regulars like, Subrat Rajopadhyaya and Bijay Burja are out; so are Sidartha and Ajay.

The selection process had brought the number of hopeful down to last 16 but now there has been 2 new additions.

One of them, Sonam, who’s come all the way from the US to try his luck in the national team. He does look the part. He seems to be holding his own and the competition for places in the final squad should improve them all. However, any objective analysis of all the newcomers in the top 18 (as it is now) is not possible from watching few training sessions.

Men’s team head coach, Dinesh Nakarmi tells us, this time the team will be much better. Well, he’s the head coach; he is duty bound to say that.

Biggest worry, however, is the match fitness as none of the players are involved in competitive game since April this year.

There is talk of taking both the men’s and women’s national team abroad for further training and some friendly matches. But will it materialise? Only time will tell.

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There is no any facility provided to players.. They want to work hard and play better but they do not have enough materials to work on. Its not the fault of the coaches and players out there but the members of NeBA and the government itself. Still the team is doing good job till now. I think selection process completely sucks.

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