In the 35 years history of South Asian Games, Nepal is now hosting its 13th edition with the grand opening of the event by President Bidya Devi Bhandari at the capital’s Dasharath Stadium on Sunday. The eleven day regional sports jamboree will be held in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Janakpur where a total of 2715 atheletes from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be competing in 26 sporting disciplines. It is a matter of pride for Nepal to host this event, which naturally offers the challenge to test the status of its sporting facilities, infrastructure and managerial capabilities. In this respect, Nepal has the reason to be proud for its spirit of enthusiasm, commitment and forthcoming attitude.
It is the third time Nepal is hosting the South Asian Games since it hosted the very first in 1984. In between, the eighth episode of the games, known then as South Asian Federation Games (SAFG), was held here from September 25 to October 4, 1999. However, Nepal is hosting the latest South Asia sporting events in an entirely different political and socio-economic environment. The nation has been making ambitious economic strides after it became a federal democratic republic following the second people’s movement, end of conflict, sealing of the peace pact and the management of political transition. After the promulgation of the new constitution in September 2015, things are moving steadily towards institutionalisation of democracy and economic prosperity.
Historic elections have given the mandate for a strong and stable government that has put development and prosperity in focal priority. As Nepal moves forward to achieve overall advancement, development of sports sector is one of its priority areas. This is a fitting area to create youth force through discipline, sportsmanship and a sense of service. At a time when a large number of Nepali youths are leaving the country in pursuit of lucrative jobs abroad, there is a challenge to retain and engage them in constructive sectors at home. Sport can be one of them. There might be so many youths with sporting talents lying in shadow or addicted to drug. The state should launch a talent hunt, train them and provide them opportunities by developing a sense of healthy competition. They should shine nationally and internationally through true spirit of sportsmanship. They should be mobilised for the service of the needy people rather than serving as election force for political parties.
Hosting of the 13th SAG has put Nepal in regional and international limelight. This is an opportunity to work towards sportsmanship, managerial leadership, events tourism, regional interaction, infrastructure development and enhancement of sports training. Within a short period of time Nepal has emerged as a hub of talents in cricket and made notable presence in the international arena. Recently, Nepali women volleyball team did remarkable job at the Central Asian Women’s Volleyball tournament. Nepali women footballers are also emerging with new potential. In the current SAG, there are high hopes on martial arts and women’s swimming. Development of sports should be founded on discipline, dedication and true sportsmanship rather than immediate medal and trophies. It requires patience and hard work. Nepal should move ahead with this motto for the development of sports.