I’ve had a love affair with basketball for 50 years. I just can’t get enough of the sport and participate wherever I live. In Nepal I’ve found basketball through coaching an Army Wheelchair Basketball team, playing in a number of locations and conducting a three hour session for school age children called “Life Lessons from Basketball”. But I’ve also found the real Nepal Basketball through my friend and coach of the Men’s National Team, Dinesh Nakarmi.
Dinesh is someone who also has a deep love for the game but especially for growing the sport in Nepal. Given Dinesh’s experience he has the potential for opportunities in other countries but he only wants to make basketball successful in Nepal. I very much admire that in him, given all of the politics that I’ve found in the sporting world.
Towards growing the game Dinesh is the General Secretary of the National Sports Council program to further develop school basketball. (The President is Yuvraj Sharma, Chief Executive and Director of Whitehouse College) This is truly great and will hopefully help to develop young Nepali boys and girls and provide them with a means to stay emotionally and physically healthy throughout their entire lives by playing sports, eating well and continuing their education.
Recently Dinesh and the Naya Bazar Club (NBC) an NGO Community Based Organization (CBO) dedicated to helping society through mobilization of youth, organised the Kirtipur Cup Basketball Tournament 2069. Since its inception NBC has been involved in many sports activities, including basketball, football, table tennis and volleyball.
The purpose of the league, which includes six teams, i.e. Naya Bazar Club, NASA Club, Goldengate Club, Gurukul National Foundation, Whitehouse and Tribhuvan Army Club, is to:
· Improve the standard of national basketball;
· Increase the popularity of this game;
· Encourage and to provide opportunity for young people to participate in sports;
· Improve players, coaches and referees;
· Arouse the public interest which will generate the necessary investments.
I attended the first series of matches, two games with another being rained out, on February 16 and was not disappointed. Some of the players I had seen before as they are on the Men’s National Team, however they were divided among the six teams. One of the teams didn’t have a coach and I helped them during the second half, although they ultimately lost.
My feeling is that it is vital for this type of tournament and school basketball programs to occur, if the sport is to become more popular. But there is much more to it, as basketball lessons abound for life, including teamwork, commitment, leadership, discipline, opportunities, as well as many others.
There also is the question of proper infrastructure, which at this point is difficult to find. Although the court that I saw on February 16 was very well maintained, most of the courts, including those that I play on are sub-par, very slippery, dangerous, without proper baskets. Additionally the majority of courts are outside, so that when there is inclement weather there is no playing.
As I found from coaching in India for three years, basketball can be an equalizer. It is very important that girls and women are given the same opportunities as boys and men to participate in basketball, i.e. whenever there is tournament, it should include competitions for everyone. It is also important to treat all fans the same and allow everyone to sit together to cheer for their favorite players and teams. This will also help to grow the game.
I’m very encouraged by what I’ve seen during my eight months in Nepal. My hope is that the love of basketball will continue to grow among the general populous and that more people will play, no matter what level of expertise they have. But further I hope that everyone, young and old will participate in any sport which they enjoy in order to keep themselves healthy throughout their lives.
For further information about the Tournament, please go to: http://nbc.org.np/kbl/index.htm