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Football in Nepal has been a popular sports as early as 1921 during the Rana dynasty and its arguably the most popular sports in Nepal.
Although the details on exact emergence of the game is cursory, it was during the Rana Regime where several clubs were formed and some domestic Football tournaments came into existence.
It was back in 1934 when, Padma Sumsher, then Prime minister started the Ram Janaki Football tournament with an objective of promoting the sports in the country. Although the game had already started to grow vigorously, Ram Janaki Football tournament is considered as the first official Football tournament in the country.
The history of Marty’s Memorial “A” Division League
Formally known as Kathmandu League Championship, Marty’s Memorial A division league is the top division Football league in Neapl which is organized by the Football Association of Nepal, All Nepal Football Association (ANFA).
The first season of the league was played back in 1954, where Mahabir Club won the tournament.
Early Day Tournaments – Football in Nepal
Ram Janaki Football tournament which was held on 1934 was the oldest Football tournament noted in the history of Nepal.
Similarly, Tribhuwan Challenge Shield was introduced by Late Kind Tribhuwan for the development of Football in Nepal back in 1947. The footballing event was organized at Tudikhel.
Naresh XI, led by Nar Shumsher Rana secured the first position defeating New Road Team (NRT) in the final.
Four years later, in 1951, Tribhuwan Challenge Shield knock out football tournament was introduced. Police force team won the tournament defeating NRT in the finals.
While most of the football tournaments were played in Tundikhel, some o them were played in Singh Durbar, until the first and the only International Football Stadium, Dasarath Rangashala was constructed.
The Establishment of Football Association
While the football activities were governed by the Nepal government itself, the official Football Association of the country was established in the year 1951. It got the FIFA association back in 1972.
Alongside FIFA, All Nepal Football Association is also associated with the Asian Football Confederation since 1954 and South Asian Football Federation, SAFF since 1997.
Currently, it is headquartered in ANFA House in the ANFA complex, Satdobato.
History of Dasharath Rangashala
Dasharath Stadium is the one and only international Football stadium in the country till date. All the major Footballing events are held in the Dasharath stadium.
However the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal led to the destruction of the stadium. Fiver years later, the stadium is still being rebuilt, thanks to the unsteady political circumstances and its influence in the sports of the country.
Dasharath Rangashala was built in 1956. Its has the capacity to hold 15,000 football fans.
March 12, 1988 is considered as a dark day in the history of Nepalese Football. At least 70 people were killed and more injured in a sudden panicked rush among the spectators.
It was during the final match of the Tribhuwan Challenge Shield, a match between Janakpur Cigarette Factory and Mukti Joddha, a Bangladeshi Football team.
The Bangladeshi sides were in the lead, before the weather turned out against the odds. A raging wind storm, along with a thick hailstorm caused chaos in the crowd.
The crowd ran towards the exit gates, which were locked, causing large damage. Although the official report claims the death of 70 people, it is believed that more than 93 people died due to the panic-led stampede.
According to the newspaper reports dated back in the time of the dreadful event, more than 25000 people joined the crowd to experience the final match of the tournament, which reflects the popularity of the football since the beginning of the era.
The formation of Nepal National Football Team
Nepal National Football team‘s first official international Football tournament was 1982 Asian games in New Delhi where Nepal got their first every international goal scorer as YB Ghale.
Ghale, a key member of the Nepal National football team since 19882 to 1990 scored the first goal for the country, in a match which Nepal eventually lost 3-1 against Kuwait.
Nepal’s first victory in a major international tournament came as a form of 1984 gold medal. Nepal as the host country claimed victory defeating Bangladesh 4-2 in the final.
Nepal’s lead came as an own goal. YB Ghale scored two second half goals while Suresh Panthi scored the forth goal for the hosts.
Nepal’s another major victory came in 1993 SAG games, where Raju Kaji Shakya led Nepal team clinched victory defeating India in the final. Nepal won the gold medal in tie breaker after the regulation time saw a 2-2 stalemate.
Nepal won their first ever AFC organized tournament in 2016 when they defeated Macau 1-0 in the final of the tournament. Sujal Shrestha headed a cross from Bharat Khawas in the 29th minute of the game to give Nepal the lead which turned out to be the decisive goal of the match.