Despite its share of ups and downs, calling the Red Bull A Division Nepal National League anything other than a success would be harsh.
Think of all the positives of the event:
• It allowed teams form all regions of the country to have a shot of becoming the club champion of Nepal
• It afforded clubs from outside Kathmandu valley a chance to play against the big boy football clubs
• It gave district and regional Football Associations much needed experience in organizing football tournaments
• It permitted football fans in different parts of the country (Pokhara and Butwal) to experience the excitement of league football
•We now have a club (Nepal Police Club) that can legitimately say they are the National Champions of Nepal
Hopefully, ANFA, clubs, sponsors and football fans will remember the positives that came from this event and not harp on the negatives so as to give this important tournament continuity. As some may recall ANFA had organized a similar National League back in 1998 and 1999, but it failed to garner any momentum for a myriad of reasons.
One concerning point about the survival of the National League system ANFA and the clubs agreed upon is that it is far more complicated than it needs to be. The current structure is a bit over ambitious and there is the potential ANFA, clubs and sponsors might feel it is too much of a headache to continue in the future.
Right now the National League system is a maze of district, regional and national tournaments in the A, B and C categories that requires lots of resources and confuses the public. Here are some examples:
• Despite being a “National League”, there is no promotion and relegation or home and away matches
• Every team participating the in the National League will have to re-qualify for it next year
• Koilapani Polestar Club (KPC) of Nawalparasi could have qualified for the National League by finishing in the top 8 of the Martyrs League ‘A’ Division, but the winner of the Nawalparasi league, which KPC did not participate in, is only given entry into the National League ‘B’ Division qualifiers
• Other than a nice trophy, the winner of the National League ‘B’ and ‘C’ Division do not gain any sporting reward
ANFA would be wise to drastically simplify the league system by going to a less complex Champions League model. Let each district run its own league, with the Martyrs League being the district competition for Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. Then assign a quota to each district for qualification to the Nepal Champions League. As an example Martyrs League would get 8 teams; strong districts like Kaski, Sunsari and Rupandehi 2 teams each; and weaker districts like Ilam and Syangja 1 team each. You can then have a World Cup type tournament where single leg group matches are played in different cities across the country and the knockout phase is held in Kathmandu.
This proposed system would generate great excitement and massive crowds, especially for the knockout rounds. It would also reduce ANFA’s expenses as they would not have to hold 3 different National Leagues at the A, B and C levels. Furthermore, as the Champions League would culminate with knockout games it would virtually eliminate match fixing. Most importantly, it would give football fans a system that is easy to understand and follow that does not require constant head scratching.
is a sports consultant, former Asian Football Confederation Development Officer and a FIFA Master graduate. You can follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rangasala