HERE FOR GOOD
AS THE FOOTBALL SEASON KICKS OFF WE SPEAK TO NABIN PANDE, COUNTRY REPRESENTATIVE OF TTI INC. WHO TELLS US WHY HE ADMIRES THIS BEAUTIFUL SPORT, HIS TAKE ON NEPALESE FOOTBALL AND THE REASON HE RETURNED HERE FOR GOOD.
Nabin Pande has an interesting résumé. Sitting in his office in Kathmandu, the man, who is the country representative of TTI Inc. – a Berkshire Hathaway talks about his love for football and why he returned for good.
“We Nepalese like to criticize our country,” Pande says. He further continues “but it is only when you leave your country and experience living “abroad” that you realize the true beauty of this place. Like me, there are many NRNs who are returning to Nepal. If you look at the vast untapped potential of this country, you’ll see enormous prospect in every sector. “
The 40–year-old Pande was a corporate Product Manager at TTI, Germany, when he decided to step down and leave. He came to Kathmandu in 2011 and set up the country liaison office of TTI with the view to put Nepal on the technology map.
“I also want to develop Nepal as an integral part of TTI eco-system”, says Nabin Pande as he reflects on his decision to move back to Nepal from Germany.
Born and raised in Nepal, he completed his schooling from Laboratory Higher Secondary and graduated from Tribhuvan University before moving to Germany in 1999 at the age of 25. As fate would have it, it provided him with an opportunity to play football for a German club. Later, he also completed his MBA from Open University, UK. While in TTI, he was awarded with the prestigious Chariman’s award from Harwin, the leading manufacturer of connectors and interconnect solutions for high-reliability applications.
A strict follower of Bahá’í faith, he believes the essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another. Sober, responsible and kind by nature, he’s a philosopher and a Samaritan by heart. Similarly, he also possesses a wealth of knowledge about the tactical and developmental aspects of both the European and Nepalese football league.
TNM: Please tell us more about your current job and job profile.
NP: Currently, I am the Country Representative at the Nepal Liaison Office of TTI Electronics Asia Pte Ltd. TTI Inc. is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Company – a Warren Buffet company. I was associated with TTI since 2001. We are basically carrying out the market research. Besides, I am also involved with Rotary International and Kathmandu Metro to name a few.
TNM: We heard that football is an indispensable part of your life. Can you please explain about this never-ending attachment?
NP: Without football, my life would’ve been less interesting. For me, football is not just a game, it’s my life. My emotional attachment with football goes back to my childhood when we used to play football in small communities and school playgrounds. Football has also helped me in gaining leadership qualities and prepared me for mental toughness. I am always looking for opportunities to be a part of this beautiful game, whether as a player or as an organizer or trainer. During my leisure time, I train and mentor footballers and kids. To sum everything up, football plays a crucial part in my life.
TNM: You even played for a local German club. How did that happen?
NP: Altogether, I played for 3 different clubs over the course of 8 years. I started with SV Ettenbeuren in 1999. My second club was FC Alteheide in 2000 and my last club was SV Mammendorf from 2005 to 2011. After moving back to Germany, I asked my wife if she could find any club suitable for me. Luckily, I met this guy in a train who happened to be my wife’s friend. This guy helped me to present myself for trial in SV Ettenbeuren. Although my game was not up to their level, the club was impressed by my enthusiasm, hardwork and commitment. Since I was not registered in ANFA, the process became easy. It took the club around 15 days of communication with German Football Association to register me in the local club.
TNM: What impact did the local German club make in your life?
NP: First of all, I was so astonished by the training method and the infrastructures. Moreover, the management’s and players’ discipline impressed me a lot both on and off the field. Everything was so well organized unlike Nepal and that made a positive impact on my life. No matter which level of league you’ll play in, you’ll see high levels of discipline, a proper system and well-maintained structure put in place everywhere.
TNM: So, you moved around a lot.
NP: Yes, I did move around a lot. Altogether, I have travelled 24 countries for vacation and business purpose. At the age of 24, I went to Israel as a part of youth volunteer service at the Bahai World Centre in Israel. I met Yvonne there and we fell in love. However, we had no sustainable career path and profession. So, we decided to move to Germany for our study and career. We settled there for a decade before moving back to Nepal.
TNM: Was the decision of returning to Nepal just a co-incidence or pre-planned?
NP: It was pre-planned. In spite of our growing career-path in Germany, we both wanted our children Neha and Nalin to grow up in Nepal. In general, family was an enduring reason and that will always be true.
TNM: Is the booming economy and political reforms bringing the educated elites back to Nepal?
NP: Yes, apart from the cultural affinity and family ties, their new-found love to do something good for the country is what is driving the elites back. But there is a lot to prepare to welcome them back for the benefit of the country. First of all we have to remove all kind of prejudices in order to start any kind of reform.
TNM: What was your motivation, for getting involved with Yeti Himalayan Sherpa Club? Was it just simply the passion for the game?
NP: After coming back from Germany, I was invited by my school friend Tenzing Sherpa who was the Club treasurer at the club. He asked me if I wanted to practice with the team and that was perfect for me. So, basically, it was the passion for this beautiful game and later I was appointed as a team manager and the chief of foreign department.
TNM: What’s your take on Nepalese football on a broader perspective?
NP: While Indian football scenario changed ostensibly during the last few years, Nepalese football failed to peak. People have immense love for foreign clubs, but when it comes to domestic events; it fails to spark any interest. Less than 30 percent of Nepalese watch domestic tournaments. Nepalese football lacks a proper system. The people who are supposed to take Nepali football forward have turned a deaf-ear towards its development. With the news of alleged involvements and corruption scam, people have started questioning ANFA’s way of doing things. The governing body is under growing pressure from a number of sectors for its poor management practices with the reputation of the organization at stake. Yet ANFA chooses to obstinately defend this with blatant excuse. Change is imminent because the enthusiasm in Nepali football scenario will never be dimmed. Everyone is now aware of the scams and embezzlement of funds. I am not talking about a direct replacement, but a change in the system and the individual thought process. We need a system that values professionalism and nurtures youth talent. We don’t lack proficient players. What we lack is the system to develop them into technically gifted ones.
TNM: Apart from the domestic league, do you follow other football leagues as well?
NP: Yes, I follow t he German Bundesliga very closely. Apart from this, I hardly follow any other league. In Nepal, people generally follow the English Premier League, so I think I will also be doing the same from this season onwards.
TNM: Which is your favorite German football club?
NP: I’ve been a fan of Bayern Munich all my life. Similarly, I also follow Bayer Leverkusen.
TNM: You’ve been to a lot of football stadiums in your life, which is your favorite one?
NP: For me, it’s the Allianz Arena. Allianz Arena would be a fitting shrine to German football gods. I have actually lost count of how many times I’ve been there and interacted with German football greats.