Bhangaha Municipality is one among fifteen palikas of Mahottari District. It is part of the northern belt of Mahottari which by most of the southern people of the district is considered extremely rural. When you take a detour from Mahendra Nagar, Dhanusha and take the narrow and partial dusty road you would be able to reach Bhangha. This article is not about Geography but about something far more important which recently for some years has been neglected in our political transition country – sports. There was a lot of chatter and social media posts about the football tournament. I had never visited Bhangha ever in my life, but the hype and myself being a football fan I was pulled to reach Bhangha and see it from my lens.
On the 24th of Magh, I took my car and reached Bhangha along with my friend Randhir Chaudhary two hours before the match. What I saw left me awestruck. The road leading to the ground was filled with people who all were making their way to the already packed ground. I could see people on the rooftop and trees just to have a glimpse of the match. Reaching the ground I saw a crowd of more than 8000 people singing, dancing, beating drums, trumpet being blown and buzzing street vendors. The finals were being played between Army club and Armed Police Force club (APF), the stage was packed with politicians, bureaucrats, police, army and APF personnel. The match took off with rounding applause and both teams were neck to neck. Army club came out victorious with a score of 2 -1. Army club was awarded five lakh rupees, the runners up team APF received two lakhs by the chief Guest Honourable Sarat Singh Bhandari, member of Parliament of Mahottari -2.
More than the money and the accolades, sports became the winner. Holding a tournament of such magnitude in a rural area and ensuring the people become a part of it needs leadership and support of a leader who would look beyond the construction of roads, buildings and drains. Bhangha municipality under the leadership of a young mayor Sanjeev Sah made it possible.
Football around the world is considered a ray of hope and a beacon of light. Didier Drogba a Footballer from Ivory Coast stopped the civil war in his country. Another footballer George weah became president of Liberia. As a pro-development person what I saw was a “Palika” which invested money on youth leadership, motivation and sports. Talking to the mayor about the tournament, he highlighted that sports is very important for him and being a youth he would like to create dreams for the youth of Bhangha in the field of sports. He expressed his desire to make Bhangha a sports hub and regularly host more sports tournaments.
The spirit and enthusiasm shown by the mayor and his team are praiseworthy. Hosting a football tournament of this scale sets a benchmark for other local level government to follow and contribute to the development of sports in their municipality. Including Sports in the academic curriculum is a need and the government should ensure it’s application because the seeds that would be sown today will reap fruit in the future.