Bangkok, Thailand, August 14, 2020 – An unprecedented silver medal achieved in front of home crowds at the 13th South Asian Games women’s volleyball tournament has created a new milestone for Nepal and spiker-cum-coach Jagdish Prasad Bhatta should take credit for the team’s historic success.

The 46-year-old Bhatta from far west part of Nepal had been an outstanding player, joining the Nepal men’s national volleyball team for three times in 1995 (India), 1999 (Nepal) and 2004 (Pakistan) in the South Asian Games, formerly known as the South Asian Federation Games (SAFG or SAF Games), a biennial multi-sport event held among the athletes from South Asia which comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan did not compete at the 2019 Games in Kathmandu after leaving the South Asia Olympic Council in 2016.

After calling it a day, the determined Bhatta joined Nepal National Sports Council as volleyball coach in 2005. In an effort of putting Nepal volleyball on the map, he developed his leadership prowess and volleyball coaching skills. He made his presence felt by becoming an assistant coach of the Nepal men’s volleyball team for the 10th South Asian Games in Sri Lanka in 2006. Bhatta remained at the similar post at the 2017 Asian Senior Central Zone Men’s Volleyball Championship in Maldives, where his team made the country proud after claiming bronze medal.

Bhatta’s precious experience in the past 14 years proved a good asset and a proficient head coach. Under his guidance, Nepal performed impressively to claim silver media at the 13th South Asian Games in Kathmandu in December 2019.

“For a successful team, Bhatta believes in hard work and dedication and discipline. He also has a positive point of view that total team management plays a vital role in getting the team to victory in the competition,” Mr Jitendra Bahadur Chand, General Secretary of the Nepal Volleyball Association, was quoted as saying.

“He is looking to achieve an unfulfilled dream of the Nepal women’s national team – winning gold at the 14th South Asian Games, due to be held in Pakistan in 2021. If all the circumstances favour him from every management point of view, I’m upbeat that the prospect can be a dream come true.”

Nepal, said Jitendra, has been taking part in the South Asian Games women’s volleyball tournament since its inception in 1999, the 8th edition in Kathmandu, where the host side bagged bronze medal.

Nepal players celebrate after winning the semi-final match against Sri Lanka in the women’s volleyball tournament under the 13th South Asian Games at the National Sports Council covered hall in Kathmandu on Saturday, November 30, 2019.

“Nepal has good potential in volleyball, especially in the women’s event. We have a good team, but it’s a pity that we have to be content with bronze medal. In almost every South Asian Games, we have been defeated by Sri Lanka and India,” said Jitendra.

“Hosting the 2019 South Asian Games, we made a long-term plan to provide training facilities and manage few warm-up matches ahead of the tournament. More importantly, we had 4 months of well-planned training. Furthermore, to gain more experience and exposure, we had 20 days of training and warm-up matches at FIVB Development Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.

“Nepal also took part in the 1st Asian Senior Central Zone Women’s Volleyball Championship in Dhaka in 2019. With head coach Bhatta at the helm, our team also caused a major sensation by landing the title, Nepal’s first ever gold medal in volleyball,” Jitendra continued.

There, Nepal made a clean sweep in the round-robin preliminaries following scintillating wins over Maldives, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan by not dropping a set to their respective oppositions and remained invincible in the final showdown against Maldives on November 14, powering past the rivals in straight sets to reign supreme.

Photo Courtesy: HamroKhelkud

According to Jitendra, the credit for the Nepal women’s volleyball team’s drastically-upgraded performance went to head coach Bhatta, who has so far identified the essential skills the team might need to improve their chances in the 2021 edition. The team players were patient and worked brilliantly as a team.

Still, their team has hit a snag with their training and preparation for various competitions due to the COVID19 situation in the country. Nepal is on partial lockdown now and everyone has to stay at home.

“Due to COVID19 pandemic in Nepal, all sports activities have been postponed. Therefore, our women’s team cannot practise and neither did our men’s side. It’s very difficult to say when our teams can start training. All players have to stay at their homes. Head coach Bhatta and his family also do the same. Wait and see another 20 days, hoping that things will be better. After that, we can restart our training in preparation for future international tournaments.”

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