Sugam Suwal: Player who came from Denmark to play for his country

The exodus of Nepali football players seeking greener pastures overseas has become a prevalent trend, highlighting the challenges they face in their home country. While playing football professionally in Nepal remains an option, the limited exposure, inadequate government support, and difficulties in sustaining a livelihood have prompted many talented athletes to venture abroad.

In recent months, notable players such as Santosh Tamang, Darshan Gurung, Hemant Thapa Magar, and Aashish Lama have flown to Australia in pursuit of their football careers, joining the growing list of Nepali players seeking opportunities abroad. These are the examples that shows there is no good career here despite playing for the country. The number of players who have left the country and flown abroad to pursue their careers is quite long .The government has also not taken any initiative or made significant efforts to address the challenges faced by these athletes.

It is unfortunate that football players who have been affected by various issues, such as disputes within ANFA (All Nepal Football Association) , misunderstandings between coaches and players, do not see their careers on the field. Despite nurturing dreams of wearing the national team jersey since a young age, many players have found it challenging to achieve their goals, as playing football alone does not guarantee a secure future.

Following the conclusion of the A Division League in the month of Falgun last year, no domestic competitions have been organized. The Nepal Super League (NSL), which was scheduled to take place, faced controversy and was unable to commence as planned. Currently, national team players are on a break after the third round of selections for the upcoming Asia Cup. The lack of local opportunities and the desire to sustain their lives through sports have propelled numerous players to seek avenues abroad.

However, even among this group, some players have returned from overseas with a renewed enthusiasm to represent Nepal. Sugam Suwal, a member of Nepal’s U-20 national team, stands as an exemplary example of such a player. Having played in Denmark, Sugam has come back with the determination to contribute to Nepal’s football landscape.

Sugam’s football journey began in Dhulikhel where he started playing at a young age. Despite not participating in any major tournaments in Nepal, he managed to find opportunities to compete at the university level. Upon completing Class 9, Sugam moved Denmark with his parents and there he joined a local club of the country, representing their U-16 and U-19 teams.

Sugam, who was advancing his sports career in Denmark, was intrigued by the information about the open selection of the U-20 team published by the ANFA. He then decided to embark on a journey of thousands of miles and arrived in Nepal to take part in the selection.

Out of the 700 players selected from open selection, Sugam emerged as one of the final 23 players chosen to represent Nepal. He also managed to secure a place for himself to play in  the U-20 SAFF Championship held in India. Reflecting on his journey, Sugam shared, “I have always cherished the dream of representing Nepal, wearing the national team jersey since my early years. During the summer break in Denmark, I stumbled upon news about the open selection for the U-20 team, and it motivated me to return to Nepal.”

His remarkable odyssey, from settling in Denmark to returning to play for his home country, serves as an inspiring tale for other aspiring players.

The debut game played by Sugam is quite remarkable. Nepal was competing against Maldives in the first match of the U-20 SAFF Championship where he had secured a place in the starting eleven.

In the 58th minute of the match, Sugam had scored his debut goal. Reflecting on that moment, Sugam says, “I felt immense happiness when I scored a goal in my debut game. It was a fulfilling moment to wear Nepal’s jersey and play. It was not just my hard work but also the result of the entire team’s relentless efforts.”

Sugam has set his sights on securing a place in the national football team and representing his country. Meghraj KC, the head coach of Nepal’s U-20 team, says that if Sugam continues to work hard and remain dedicated to football, he will soon earn a place in the national football team.

Currently, the Nepali U-20 team is preparing for the first round of the U-20 Asian Cup qualification. In the upcoming tournament to be held in Bahrain next month, Nepal will be grouped with Bangladesh, Malaysia, Bhutan, and Bahrain in Group B. Nepal will play their first match against Bhutan on September 10, followed by a match against Qatar on September 12. The third match will be against Bahrain on September 14. The final game will be played against Bangladesh on September 18.

Although Nepal performed well in the U-20 SAFF tournament held in India, they were eliminated from the competition due to a loss in one match. The U-20 team is currently focusing on improving their weaknesses and practicing with the goal of delivering an impressive performance in the U-20 Asian Cup qualification. After the Asia Cup qualifiers, Sugam plans to go to Denmark immediately and then return to play for Nepal.

“We didn’t achieve what we had hoped for in India. Now, we are focused on improving on our weaknesses and preparing to perform well in the U-20 Asian Cup qualification. After the Asian Cup qualifiers, I plan to go to Denmark and then return to play for Nepal,” says Sugam ending the conversation.

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