SINGING YNWA IN RURAL NEPAL
Millions of Reds fans throughout the world proudly sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and dream of stepping in Anfield someday. For many fans, YNWA is not just a song, but also a source of inspiration. This was the very inspiration that drove a Liverpool fan to change and inspire his whole community in a rural town in Nepal
Diktel is a mountainous town in Eastern Nepal that serves as the headquarters of Khotang district. It was this place that a longtime Liverpool fan, Roshes Shrestha, spent his childhood days.
“It was only around 12 years ago that cable TV reached Diktel and that’s when heard about Liverpool and started following Liverpool’s games on my 6 inch Chinese Black-and-White TV set,” Roshes told me. It was in this very town that Roshes was now training a new group of young football players.
The starting line
Roshes learnt the basics of football by watching live games on TV. He, along with his friends in Diktel, had built a competitive football team which played friendlies and tournaments across several parts of Eastern Nepal.
He later came to Kathmandu for a few years, where he continued playing football locally and kept on following Liverpool’s games. To seek further career opportunities, he went to Australia, where he continued playing football and also became a well-recognized player in Sydney’s local football scene. After 5 years, he decided to permanently return back to Nepal and shift base to Kathmandu.
It was here that he met a passionate group of local Liverpool FC fans and thus inspired people into making an amateur football team under the name LFC KTM. The team would regularly practice and play games against several local teams. Such was the quality of the team that out of the total 18 games played, the team won 15.
Roshes had also established a small café, where he, along with a few enthusiastic Liverpool fans, organized screenings for Liverpool fans on game days.
Developing football in Diktel
Roshes later decided to sell his cafe and go to his hometown for a few months in May. He was happy to discover that people had started to passionately follow football. Yet, there was nobody there to practically guide the youngsters in playing football.
Geographically, a lot of towns in the country are located around hilly slopes. Big flat lands, often serve as market centers and thus finding a good place to play or practice football regularly was a big challenge. The playing conditions in those rural towns are such that if a ball happens to fly around the sidelines or beyond the goal posts, it’s sure to roll down hundreds of meters below. Then again, most parents in Nepal don’t want their children to pursue sports and Diktel was no different. Due to low career potential, parents are very careful in observing that children ‘don’t divert’ towards sports.
Roshes felt strongly that this situation had to change and he decided that he was going to invest his five month stay in Diktel to develop football in his hometown. With his wife Satina firmly behind him, he dared to go ahead in his plans. So just before leaving towards his hometown, he bought 10 football training kits set from his own pocket and headed home with a vision to develop football at Diktel.
Overcoming the challenges
For the first few days, Roshes spent time on finding children, girls and young people interested in playing football. With the help of a few friends in Diktel, he spread the word that he was going to organize a two month long training camp for free.
Within a couple of days, more than 60 willing participants, including children and girls from distant villages in Khotang expressed their wished to sign in to the camp. This further encouraged Roshes and he announced a 2-hour a day training regime in the morning, that wouldn’t disturb the children’s schooling, yet give them adequate training.
After an initial trial, he decided to take in 35 children and 8 girls in the camp. A lot of them had kicked a football for the first time in their life!
Initially, a lot of parents of the participating children negatively reacted to the training. However, after a few weeks of training, all of them supported Roshes actively in his mission, seeing the positive changes in their children. Not only did the playing children enjoy the training, but his two year old daughter, Rosalin, imitated the training children.
Finding support and success
After a couple of weeks of training, Roshes saw the need to improve the football ground in his neighborhood. The size of the ground was barely 65m x 30m and wasn’t flat as well. He led a donation campaign to improve and upgrade the ground up to 70m x 36m as well as flatten it.
Locals actively supported the campaign where those who could afford it donated money while those who couldn’t afford it, donated voluntary work. Roshes himself donated around Rs. 30000 to the project. Within a week the ground was good enough to play 7-side football.
With the help of donation from LFC KTM, he ordered around 22 sets of Liverpool jerseys and invited the new young footballers to him home to watch the Reds play. The impressive display by the Liverpool team last season easily made his pupils, passionate new Liverpool fans. Roshes even commissioned a local artist to paint a Liverbird on the gates of his house while at Diktel, displaying his passion for Liverpool in the community.
Seeing the satisfactory progress of his pupils, Roshes wanted to give some real exposure to them. So he went to the locals and requested them to hold an invitational football tournament in the newly built ground. With the active participation of some local people, a tournament organizing committee was formed.
The committee actively led a donation campaign to generate funds for the tournament, which ultimately managed to collect around Rs. 600,000 (approximately $6000), with which the tournament was ultimately held around the end of June.
Three different competitions were held within the tournament that included a senior level competition, a ladies’ competition and a children’s competition. Around 12 teams from different parts of the country, including the capital Kathmandu, participated in the senior tournament. A team captained by Roshes himself, playing in Liverpool’s Red color kit, was among the participants. His team finished third.
Meanwhile, the ladies trained by Roshes, won the four-team ladies’ competition. Similarly, the trained children too won the children’s cup. Ultimately, Roshes’ efforts paid off to the delight of ladies and the children.
The effort given by Roshes didn’t go unnoticed by the football authorities of Nepal. The Eastern-regional head of ANFA, came to Diktel for the tournament and encouraged Roshes to continue such program for developing football.
Walk On, Walk On, With Hopes in Your Heart…….
Ultimately, Roshes’ initiation led to positive changes in the whole community. The children and girls, to whom he taught football, found some real motivation through football and real inspiration from Liverpool.
“Given the chance, I will certainly hold such programs around several parts of rural Nepal,” says Roshes.
“I want to promote a program with the motto ‘Football for Everyone’, where the importance of football is recognized in encouraging healthy lifestyle, mutual co-operation and discipline,” he added.
“I really hope that Liverpool FC promotes such activities and helps in the development of Nepali football as well. A single act of encouragement can bring real drastic and positive changes to the lives of these children and girls.”
Do you wish to support LFC KTM and Roshes’ activities? Feel free to contact him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/roshes .
Don’t forget to check into the LFC KTM group https://www.facebook.com/groups/Lfcktmnepal/
And the page https://www.facebook.com/LFCNEPAL.YNWA.JFT96
If you have similar inspirational stories related to Liverpool fans, do let us know. We will be more than happy to cover them on our blog.