Prajwal Oli’s Best Column picks holes in Nepali sports management system
Prajwal Oli welcomed at Kathmandu International Airport (Photo - NSJF)
LAUSANNE, March 3, 2020 - When Nepali sports journalist Prajwal Oli landed at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, he found a festive crowd waiting for him. Representatives of Nepali sport, from players to coaches and journalists, were ready to offer a welcome worthy of a world champion.
“I remember traditional music playing when I stepped out the aircraft. Colleagues from NSJF were clapping for me, together with bearers and the president of the Nepal National and International Players Association. It was something that I had not imagined,” says Prajwal.
In his address, NSJF President Durga Nath Subedi said: “Oli's achievement is an inspiration for all of us here. His months long dedication in coming up with the article, the patience and persistence he exhibited and his desire to come up with something beyond the mainstream is a lesson for all of us.”
Prajwal Oli welcomed by colleagues of NSJF at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu (Photo - NSJF)
He is a world champion indeed, having reached the 1st place in Best Column at the AIPS Sport Media Awards. Juror Mark Gleeson described his work as a “clear example that good journalism can be found wherever and must be always rewarded regardless the power or resources of media outlets”.
Prajwal started out his career in the oldest English broadsheet daily of the country – The Rising Nepal – as a reporter. Initially, he worked on almost every field including politics, economy and social issues. Driven by football passion, he soon decided to specialize in sports, covering the handful of disciplines attracting considerable media attention in Nepal.
His article “Nepal barely plays 50 different sports, but hosts nearly 200 sports associations” published on the Kathmandu Post, is a lucid analysis on the uncontrolled diffusion and mismanagement of sports associations in the country. 193 of them are in fact registered with National Sports Council, the body responsible for regulating sports in the country. It is a shocking number if compared to the around 50 associations registered with the sports departments of India and Bangladesh.
“The list of sports associations is truly bizarre, featuring games like throwball, petanque, pole breaking, chalk ball, foot volley, rope skipping, sumo wrestling, ice hockey, tong-il moo-do, pigeon racing, roll ball, curve ball, tug-of-war, and skiing. There are over 60 associations alone for the various versions of karate,” writes Oli in the article.
The reality of sport in the country is thus marked by a wide, blatant discrepancy between the precarious condition of professionalism and the number of national associations hosted in the country, which are often just a mere excuse to perpetrate special interests or help people emigrate in the name of attending international competitions.
-What was the knowledge and previous work on this topic in Nepal?
-The reality described in the article was nothing but unknown to the sports environment. Everyone in sports knows about the haphazard conditions of sports associations in the country. It is a normal affair to register new sports associations - no matter how solid and active they are - at the National Sports Council, the government authority responsible for regulating sports in the country.
But only seldom this system has caught the attention of the media. To my knowledge, the issue was raised only once in the past. There was nothing like a proper research or dossiers, so I tried to get in depth. It took me two weeks to collect all the necessary information for my story.
-Why do you think so many athletes in your country exploit sports associations’ travelling to settle abroad?
-The major thing is that sport has never become professional in the country. Most of the athletes can’t really count on sport to make ends meet. Nepal, as a third world country, has poor life style and living standard. With few opportunities available in the country, even top athletes attempt to emigrate to boost their condition once they retire from the game.
-Do you think the international spotlight would help take measures against sports mismanagement?
-The English publication of the article didn't make any agenda in Nepal, with the issue being untouched. But once it was picked as the winner of Best Column award during the awards, the issue I raised came into spotlight. The Chief Executive of National Sports Council has said he would take necessary steps to curb the passive sports associations. Also the Ministry of Sports guaranteed to study thoroughly the active and passive associations in the country.
On satge at the AIPS Sport Media Awards (Photo - AIPS)
-Can you describe your personal experience at the AIPS Sport Media Awards?
-It was really a pleasant surprise for me. Nepali journalism doesn’t have much international experience, thus I would like to share this success with all my colleagues countrywide. Moreover, this award represents a loud and clear message that we are at par with international media, pushing journalists to pursue their careers with passion and creativity.