8-14 January 2016 #790

An overnight star

Nabin Aryal in Nepal, 29 December

Former national footballer Yam Bahadur Ghale aka YB still remembers the day he became an overnight sensation in Nepal, almost 25 years ago. Ghale was part of the national team that played against Kuwait in the 1982 Asiad Games and scored the only goal for the Nepal side.

The game had been nail-biting. Both teams were goalless until the 74th minute, then within minutes the Kuwait team scored two goals. With less than five minutes remaining on the clock, YB, a midfielder, took the ball into the D-area and shot the ball straight into the post, becoming the first Nepali to ever score a goal in an Asian league match.

On his return home YB was greeted by a crowd of fans at the airport. Although his teammates Ashok KC, Lok Bahadur Shahi and Ganesh Thapa were bigger stars, it was YB’s name that the crowd chanted that night.

As son of an ex-British Gurkha soldier who received the Victoria Cross, YB was expected to follow in his father, Gaje Ghale’s footsteps and join the Army. However his passion lay elsewhere.

At 14 he was chosen to play in the Uttar Pradesh School level football team. On his cousin’s insistence he travelled to Nepal where he led his team to the semi-finals of a national tournament. His performance impressed many and he was selected to take part in the closed-door sessions of the national football team.

Few months later he was selected by then national coach Rudy Guttendorf to represent Nepal internationally.
Despite earlier discouragement Gaje Ghale had been watching his son play when he made the historic goal. “He was very impressed but also grew emotional,” recalls YB.

Unfortunately YB’s promising career was cut short by paralysis of the same leg that helped him score the glorious goal. Till today YB is the only Nepali footballer to have successfully scored a goal in the Asiad Games.