Ever since the annual budget was announced a couple of months back, the National Sports Council (NSC) has been whining that the Rs 100 million allocation is too meagre to meet even administrative costs, let alone organise sporting events. However, thanks to organisations outside the NSC, the sporting calendar looks pretty full for the next month. Coming up are the South Asian Wushu Championship, the Dhrama-shree Bodybuilding Championship and the national basket tournament.
As the country that pioneered the development of martial arts in the region, it is only appropriate that Nepal host the 1st South Asian Wushu Championship. Players from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will be contesting for 28 golds in the competition which is being organised by the Nepal Wushu Association (NWA).
According to NWA chairman, Prasiddha Pandey, 20 players from each nation will be competing in eight different categories. Nepal will field 6 male and 6 female players in thailu (routine event) and 8 males in sansau (weight category). All of them are in closed camp being trained by five coaches. On test will be Nepal\'s domination or martial arts in the South Asian scene as emphasised once again at the SAF Games last year.
The 7th Dharmashree Bodybuilding Championship comes soon after the success of the 2nd SAARC Bodybuilding Championship in May. Organised by Nepal Byayam Mandir, a local bodybuilding club, this championship is a coveted one, not least because of the prize money on offer. This year, the overall champion will walk away with Rs 35,000 out of the total Rs 99,000 on offer.
Dharmashree was begun back in 1985 as an inter-club bodybuilding championship. Initially, it was meant only as a platform for Kathmandu\'s aspiring bodybuilders and there were no cash prizes. The money came only in 1993. Around 100 bodybuilders will be competing this time in six categories in the contest to be held at the Royal Nepal Academy.
The muscle-flexing should be quite a treat to the many bodybuilding aficionados in Kathmandu. Since the mid-90s a bodybuilding craze has swept the Valley and the number of weightlifting clubs has really gone up. Though the arrival of pool and snooker has diminished its popularity to some extent there are still more than 70 bodybuilding gyms in Kathmandu alone. It should be remembered that Nepal had won the team championship at the 2nd SAARC meet, with Sanjeet Pradhan taking gold in the 55kg category.
Basketball has not really-been such a popular sport in Nepal. But because of the growing interest among school kids and teenagers, and partly because of satellite television, the game is gaining ground in Nepal. Beginning 3 September, Nepali basketball fans will get a chance to see home-grown Michael Jordans and Shaquille O\'Neals in action at the 2nd Nation-wide Open NBA Basketball Tourney. The Nepal Basketball Association (NBA) will evaluate players at the competition to select the Nepali squad for the South Asian Basketball Tourney to be held in Guwahati in end-October.
It bodes well for Nepali sports that even with an inactive NSC these events are being organised. (Apart from providing technical support, NSC has no role in these events.) Also encouraging is the enthusiastic response of the private sector to act as sponsors. That can only be good news to Nepali sports lovers.