‘Not as easy as you think, sports commentary awaits glamour in Nepal’

Avash Ghimire
Ghimire commentating his first football game during the 2019 South Asian Games.

Avash Ghimire’s first football commentary was during the 2019 South Asian Games. He was thrown in at the deep end when asked to comment on a game between Bhutan and Bangladesh. He was nervous as this was a big stage.

But, this had been his dream. For years, he had projected himself as a commentator. The time had come and he was not going to let it slip.

“I made a few mistakes but I felt a high I’d never felt before. After that match, there was no going back,” says Ghimire.

Since then, Avash Ghimire has been regularly commentating on games. He has commentated on the track and field events at the South Asian Games. He was also a part of the team that commentated on the inaugural futsal league along with knockout football tournaments, cricket games, international football games and the A Division League.

Having learnt most of it on the job, Ghimire feels it is time that TV channels realised the importance of live sports. Despite his best efforts, he feels people still take commentators for granted and wants people to understand what they are doing is not as easy as many think.

That said, he wants to continue to grow as a commentator and hopes to pave way for the future generation and become the voice of football in the country and bring glamour to the live broadcasts.

The commentary craving

Avash Ghimire’s love for commentary started at a young age while watching cricket with his father on television. He loved listening to Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri and enacted them when he played cricket with his friends.

When he was growing up, football commentary in Nepal was done mostly by Sanjeeb Shilpakar who he looked up to a lot. He listened to how he did it and always hoped he makes it there one day.

“Sanjeeb dai and Aman (Adhikary) dai have been my role models here in Nepal. Having worked with both has been a dream come true for me,” he says.

To pave his way, he joined the media industry. His goal was to learn and get better and become a commentator. He hosted and produced various shows, but his end goal was always commentary.

Avash Ghimire’s first stint as a commentator was during the first edition of the Pokhara Premier League in 2018. He was hired to be the host of the tournament, but knowing his interest was commentary, Aman Pratap Adhikary, the broadcast director of the tournament, gave him the microphone for five overs.

“He’s believed in me a lot and giving me those five overs was of great help.”

Ghimire then carried on doing things on YouTube and producing shows for Nepali media. But in 2019, when he was watching the South Asian Games, he felt sad hearing the commentary.

“It was being done by an amateur. Apparently, someone who was supposed to be there hadn’t arrived on time and someone else was filling in,” he says.

Avash Ghimire called Yopesh Pradhan, the broadcast director, and asked him why he was not considered for the role. Pradhan asked him to come to the Dasharath Stadium and that is how he got his first chance at doing football commentary.

The challenges

Avash Ghimire
Ghimire commentating on an A Division League game.

But being thrown in at the deep end was not easy. This was something he calls the hardest thing he has done in his life. He made mistakes. There was no chance he would not have as this was his first time doing it. But, he did not hesitate and completed the entire match on his own.

“After that, I and Abhinav (Joshi) did the rest of the tournament together.”

That started a series of other tournaments. Avash Ghimire did the 2022 A Division League along with the very first futsal league. But, it has not been smooth sailing.

“Commentary is the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. It taught me a lot about the game and about how I should be doing it.”

As a commentator, the best make mistakes and so has he. He sometimes has got too emotional during Nepal’s games and has to be told to calm down. He has made mistakes when it comes to calling the match and has used terminologies that a Nepali audience does not understand. But, he feels most of the criticism is unfair as he is trying to pave the way for the future.

“There was a gap because of this discouragement. I feel I now have developed a thick skin and have been dealing with the criticism quite well.”

But, what does not help Avash Ghimire is terminologies. Football is a foreign game and the most of words when translated into Nepali do not make much sense. To ensure he does not confuse people, he uses English words but the audience always trolls him for doing so.

“I think people don’t realise I can’t use some words that do not make sense. Maybe with time, they will become accustomed to it,” he says.

Another issue that commentators like him face is the place from where they commentate on the game. Stadiums in Europe have a place called the gantry, a vantage point from where commentators see the game. But in Nepal, no stadium has a gantry as the country’s only international stadium forces commentators to commentate on the game from a room that is below the ground.

“We have to commentate looking at the TV screen. That’s not easy. We did get to do it from the stands during the Aaha Rara Gold Cup in Pokhara, but at Dasharath Stadium, we haven’t had that freedom,” he says.

Missing understanding

This means they can not see the game as well as a commentator should, which makes it tough for them to explain what is going on in the game. For this to change, Avash Ghimire feels TV Channels need to understand what commentators need.

“They think it’s a simple job of coming and speaking but there’s more to this. This, along with reality shows, is what will hold the TV in the future and they need to understand.”

But, Avash Ghimire feels most TV channels take them for granted. They do not give them time to do their homework and pay them well below what they are worth.

“Most of us do it because it’s our passion. Now, we need to move ahead and bring glamour to the industry and make it better. I’m trying my best to try to change things, but Nepal is a difficult place to create change,” he says.

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Pant is an independent journalist based in Kathmandu. He covers issues ranging from tech, music, mountains, biodiversity and environment.

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