If there was one person who stood out during the opening of the South Asia Federation Games last year, it was Rukma Shumsher Rana. As he welcomed the delegates in his capacity as chief organiser, his easy grace and polished manners impressed many.
It was perhaps a reward for a job well done that Rana was appointed Nepal\'s ambassador to Sri Lanka after the Games. But he declined the honour, preferring instead to work for the development of sports in the country.
He presently heads two sporting bodies, the Nepal Olympic Committee (NOC) and the Nepal Amateur Athletics Federation (NAAF). He is also the vice-chairman of the National Sports Council (the chairman is an ex-officio position held by the minister in charge of sports).
Equally well known as a businessman (he is Executive Director of Dabur Nepal), Rana\'s association with the world of Nepali sports dates only to the early 90s when he was appointed member-secretary of NSC, a position he held for three consecutive terms.
Earlier he had served as Nepali Congress member in the National Assembly. Son of Congress stalwart, late Subarna Shumsher Rana, deputy prime minister in B.P. Koirala\'s short-lived Congress government of 1959-60, he finely admits that his appointment to NSC is political.
Problems with Nepali sports
Lack of commitment on behalf of sports administrators. It is true that Nepal is not a major sporting power in the world and our athletes are below par compared to world standards. But at the same time we sports administrators have also failed. There has never been any attempt made by us to upgrade the sporting scenario. Secondly, sports has been given secondary importance by the government.
National Sports Council
It is still run in the same way as in the Panchayat days. In the last 10 years, all sectors have gone through changes except NSC. There is no other institution in Nepal where one person has both financial and administrative control. Everything is in the hands of one person-the member-secretary.
NSC must be run like an institution. There should be a clear division of power. In Panchayat times, the member-secretary wielded a lot of power and was ably supported by the government. But things are different now. Though, the member-secretary holds all the executive power within NSC, there is little support from the government.
Also, there are two systems at work in sports. The ministry has developed its own way of working, whereas NSC has continued with its Panchayat style. NSC should be working in tandem with the ministry. But that hasn\'t happened so far.
Nepal\'s performance at Sydney We don\'t stand a chance. But that doesn\'t mean we shouldn\'t send our athletes to the Olympics. The exposure they get is enormous.
Bid for Asian Athletics Championships We\'ve taken this bidding process seriously. Actually, we\'ve bid for three championships. These are the Asian Athletics Championship, the Asian Marathon and the Asian Cross-Country. But we are keen to host the Athletics Championship as it is the biggest among the three. Not only will it be the first ever Asian-level tourney organised in Nepal but it would also give a big boost to Nepali athletics.
The athletics scenario Optimistic. Some good athletes are coming up. In the past, our athletes have done well, especially in long distances. I\'ve great hopes for Gyan Bahadur Bohara, who is a tremendous runner. There is a 13-year-old girl from Chitwan who shows promise in sprint events.
Planning Nepali sports
The time has come to think about a long-term plan. It is a must if we want to move ahead. Also, the focus should be on key sports in which we can be successful. But that doesn\'t mean neglecting other games. But priority should be given to those that can bring us results. I think we can achieve greater success in taekwondo, karate and boxing.
There are 44 sporting associations affiliated to NSC. Only half of them are active. It doesn\'t make any sense to support all the associations. They must be ranked according to performance. Only those that can produce results should be given financial assistance.
Becoming NSC member-secretary again.Unless and until there is government support forthcoming, it won\'t make any sense.