Pokhara Cup: Positive and negative aspects

Safal Pokhara cup

As we observed Safal Pokhara Cup recently, there were lot of positives and negatives to take home. These are just some of the things I noticed while attending Safal Pokhara Cup.

First the positive aspects of Pokhara cup.

Good use of advertising space.

There were no empty spaces and event organisers had taken “every penny counts approach”, attracting a lot of small sponsors on top of the few big ones. Same couldn’t be said about ANFA, their counterpart in Kathmandu. Most spaces around the football pitch are left empty probably hoping for a big time sponsor. ANFA seem to look at small sponsors as drop in the ocean without realising that those drops do make the ocean.

More of the local business and individuals involved.

This is probably borne out of necessity (to attract small sponsors) rather than intentional. As I pointed out above, there were many sponsors. Most of them small local businesses and individuals. Which meant a lot of the community were actively taking part. Free passes they received, as sponsors,  definitely brought many to the stadium. And there is a good chance they’ll be back for more.

Food and drink stalls.

Sale of food and drink is a good source of revenue in any event, while also providing much needed service for the fans. If you look at Premier League, it is an integral part of football stadiums.

Although Pokhara stadium didn’t have kiosks to serve food and drink, they did have a make shift tents. The food were reasonably priced and sold out by the end of the game.

Pets kept off the pitch.

There were no incidents of dogs entering the football ground even though most part of the stadium was fenced off with rusty corrugated steel sheets rather than proper wall. Same couldn’t be said of Dasrath stadium as most of you are well aware of the incident at the SAFF championships.

Some how dogs seem to get an all access pass in Kathmandu, where even journalists some times find difficulty getting past the security.

Surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of stray dogs in Pokhara. Capital city Kathmandu can, in fact, learn something from Pokhara about stray dog management.

Keen to show respect to staff, who other wise are forgotten about or even looked down on.

Before the final of Safal Pokhara Cup kicked off, the organizers took time to honor grounds keeper, Mr. Santa Bahadur Gurung, with credit and recognition for his work.

It might be surprising to some readers, but people like Santa Bahadur Gurung don’t seem to get the credit they deserve in Nepali football. So it was nice to see that. Hopefully, ANFA will start doing the same in Kathmandu.

But then there were some nagatives just as with anything else in life.

Lack of punctuality.

Almost every game started half an hour later than the official kick off  time. It was worse on the final with series of speeches from organizing committee as well as guests. Those things should have been done after the game.

The game was delayed by almost an hour. And the bad weather made it feel even worse as it started raining mid way.

Pokhara gave a true meaning to the phrase “Nepali time”.

Lack of enough rest rooms / toilets.

There weren’t big enough rest rooms / toilets, neither in size nor in numbers. There were make shift toilets, if you can call it that, outside the stadium. But I doubt if any one thought that was a good idea in this day and age.

I don’t know how the ladies coped but for boys, I could almost hear them say “world is our toilet!”. They simply walked little further from the stadiums, looked towards Pokhara airport and …. relief!!

Pokhara lacked a lot of things in terms of providing proper facilities other than just rest rooms, like conference room or a proper guest seating areas. But given the circumstances (lack of support from government), I thought it was acceptable.

Oh and one other thing, the Safal Pokhara Cup organizers came up with a idea to start the national anthems while the players were still warming up. Not sure whether it was good or bad but it was certainly unusual. Little weird even.

One of the players was just about to kick the ball when he noticed every body else was standing still. Poor guy didn’t know whether to stand still with his feet extended or drag it back.