the lure of greener fields in conversation with aspiring footballers
The fact that hundreds of Nepali kids are competing to play in the minor leagues of a small, largely overlooked nation on the other side of the mainstream world highlights the lack of opportunities for youth here in their home countries. Dreams of football glory lead many aspiring athletes to pursue a professional sports career. While the ultimate goal for most is to find mainstream success in Football, they also come with passion that defies the greed for money or fame.
We had a talk with four aspiring footballers from Nepal who all come from humble families. We get to know what makes them love the sport so much, the challenges they face, and what their goal is; no pun intended.
I left my family to come study and play football here. So I am expected to complete my studies and, in that sense, I haven’t been able to give my total attention to football. And that is how I feel the society still thinks; sports can never be the primary goal in life. It will always be education first. But for us it is different, we want football to be the primary aspect in life.
I come from a very backwards and rural community in Gulmi. We didn’t have any games there but once it did, and I went to see it right away. I saw a player there; I don’t know who he was, but I was really fascinated by the way he played. I wanted to be able to play like that, I play last defense and I play that position because I was inspired by him. I came here in Kathmandu for the ANFA selection for the Under-14 and 16. While I was here, Siddhartha Banasthali Institute granted me a scholarship to study on the basis of my football credibility. Last year I played for the Manang Marshyangdi Club, and Sankata Football Club as well. I also went to play an International Friendly game in Malaysia.
I plan to play A-Division in the near future. And if everything goes well, I will also be playing for the national team. And I have a dream of opening a football academy in my village where little children can get more skill before coming to Kathmandu. I have learned from experience that if I had been trained a little better in my hometown, I would be in a much better place now.
I used to play since my school days. I saw my older brothers play and I just joined in as a hobby, but I loved it. Everyone thought I would grow out of it like most other kids but I couldn’t. Then I thought I would play from a club level, and when I did that, I kept going, and now I play for the national level Under-18 Football.
Most of the players come from weak financial backgrounds. It’s the same with all of us and our families are always under pressure because of that. But I will keep doing what I love and I hope people will appreciate what we have been doing and how we have been representing our country. I have it in my heart and right now people around me might not be that supportive, but I hope when I reach to the level I see for myself, they will be proud of what I did, which was believe in myself.
My father passed away when I was little and we had to just depend on my mom for all the expenses. But now I have been playing and earning money for my family. In that sense, I am very proud and so is my mom. That makes me happy.
We live close to the Tudikhel Ground, and my mom had a small shop there. I used to look at people come and play there and I think that’s how I got interested in the game. As I was always around, they saw that I wanted to play. But I didn’t have proper shoes to play. So some of them gave me their old shoes and invited me to play. After that, I decided to play football in school tournaments. I got a lot of praises, trophies, and medals, and those really motivated me. And now, I never stopped. I have played everywhere it was possible. I played Under-18 from Jawalakhel Youth Club and then I got a call from Under-19 as well. Now I have been selected as a national team member and I have also played for the AFC qualifiers.
In the future, I hope to be an army man and play for the Army Team. I have been getting calls for that so I will go for it.
Same as Diwash, I started from my school as well, but it was very difficult for me as I was in a lot of pressure from my family to not pursue football. I come from a rural area and no one knew that there was any scope. I used to run away from my house and go play, and I have been playing C-Division Leagues all over Nepal, and this year I am hoping to play in the B-Division. I just want people around me to be supportive first of all.
No matter what anyone says, I don’t let it get to me because I am very passionate about football. People may say something nasty because they don’t know where I have reached, but once they enter my house, they will see trophies all over the wall. I think people are just ignorant and assume that people might not be good at what they do before even watching me play. So, I hope one day people will see me and not say that nothing is going to happen in the future. I hope that day comes soon because I have been working very hard for it.
I have recently received a call to play in Japan for the Nepalese team there. Somehow that couldn’t be done, but now I’m applying for Korea on a student visa.