KATHMANDU, Sept 1: Generally, All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) organizes football tournaments and matches and referees and assistant referees conduct the matches. But on Wednesday, a football match featured referees playing against ANFA officials and coaches.
The referees, who often come under fire and are dragged into controversies for their decisions, were playing ecstatically on Wednesday. The friendly football match was organized by National Football Referee Association Nepal to mark the Third Asian Referee Day.
The winning side was to be awarded by the opponents. But the winner could not be decided as the match ended in 3-3 tie.
Though Sankata relegated from the first division in the recent season to B, team coach Chet Narayan Shrestha put up a brilliant show and scored two goals in the 23rd and 25th minute respectively, both in passes set by ANFA President Ganesh Thapa. Thapa added another in the injury time of the first half.
Rajesh Shrestha scored twice for the referees in the 43rd and 81st minutes. Earlier, Naniram Thapa had given a 21st minute lead to the referee team.
Recalling his experience as a player, president of Referee Association and Captain Surendra Shikhrakar said it was difficult to play than be a referee. Altogether 30 referees were there to play the match. "Though we can beat the opponents in fitness and stamina, it is really difficult to shoot the ball," Shikhrakar added.
The referees also accused the opponents of playing foul and physical games. Referee Pema Lama Sherpa was the only female player.
Among other players, ANFA president Thapa, who is also a former national captain, was high on energy and enthusiasm. The ANFA team was captained by ANFA General-secretary Dhirendra Pradhan.
Thapa, who played for about an hour, said that though he has the same zeal as he had when he was a youth, it was difficult for him to kick long balls. He said that he would play full 90 minutes in the veterans´ football tournament to be held later this year.
ANFA President Thapa, Vice-presidents Mahesh Bista, Bijaya Narayan Manandhar, Treasurer Birat Jung Shahi, other ANFA officials and coaches Rajukaji Shakya, Upendraman Singh, Madhu Karki were in the team.
Earlier, Referee Association organized a brief program to mark the Asian Referee Day. Referee President Sikhrakar, ANFA President Thapa and Football Player´s Association General-secretary Upendraman Singh discussed the role of referee at the program.