After a disheartening Nehru Cup performance by the men’s national football team, the focus now shifts to women footballers.
As I write the women’s national team is already in Sri Lanka to compete in the 2nd South Asian Federation Football (SAFF) Championship beginning 7th September. Defending champion India and Nepal are the two top ranked teams in the tournament. The two rivals are most likely to fight it out again for the title, if my prediction holds.
India ranked 52nd in FIFA rankings start the competition as the overwhelming favorites, and they may be poised for another championship. One thing is sure, they are not taking anything for granted and appear well prepared for the tournament. They head the group consisting of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan.
Recent Performances by Nepal Women’s Football Team has been good
It may be recalled that Nepali footballers were in the spotlight in 2010, following their spirited performances against India in two finals that took place in Bangladesh. The first final between the two was in the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games and the second in the First SAFF Championship. Although our women lost on both occasions, they gave the highly fancied opposition a run for their money and showed their potential. The matter of fact is that in the SAF Games, Nepal had even led India before going down 1-3, and in the SAFF Championship, they put in a vastly improved performance in their 0-1 loss.
Head Coach Kishor KC is confident of success ahead of the tournament, and he is convinced that the team is ready and raring to go. Unquestionably, he has a deep, talented side that should do well. The preparation the team underwent could have been better. I comprehend Coach KC’s helplessness; nonetheless, he has toiled around – the- clock, training the girls.
What makes me feel optimistic and confident?
The girls are ambitious and hungry for success. They have proved it once before, and there is no reason why they won’t do it again. Ranked 110th in the world, Nepal is grouped along with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Maldives. In all probability, they should have few problems beating the three opponents comprehensibly. It is very true that Nepal’s record against the three stand solid and impressive but that does not necessarily ensure them success. It is a serious mistake to underestimate your opponent. And also don’t allow overconfidence affect your performance. In sports nothing is guaranteed. Give full respect to your opponents, and give your best.
Women football in Nepal has been around for over two decades; however, it is in a very sorry state. To add, it is one of the most ignored and neglected sport. Consequentially, the footballers are like an endangered species. There never has been an earnest and honest effort to develop the game on the part of All Nepal Football Association (ANFA). As a result, women football, which is languishing in the doldrums, obviously, has long lagged behind other countries despite its increasing popularity.
Despite everything, women football has barely survived, thanks largely to a handful of real dedicated and committed individuals, security organizations, schools, clubs and players. Twenty six years ago (1986) Nepal made its international debut at the Asian Cup, and three years later (1989), they were back in the competition. Hard to believe that the team had to wait ten years to make its third Asian Cup appearance (1999). There was no end to their woes. From 2000 to 2010, the national team was denied opportunities to play a single international tournament. In between, the only time, Nepal participated in an international was at the U-19 tourney in China.
Do you still have faith in ANFA?
I wonder what took ANFA President, Ganesh Thapa, so long to commit his support to the development of women football and make public a series of incentives for players. If this had been done a long time ago, today, women football would not have looked so bleak. Sure hope you mean it Mr. Thapa.