The mood at the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) complex on Saturday morning was gloom-ridden. It was where the body of late ANFA’s acting president Lalit Krishna Shrestha, also the long-time serving president of one of the country’s most prominent football clubs, Three Star, was kept for visitors to pay their last respects.
Though his body was submerged under a heap of marigold garlands, flower bouquets and shawls - offered in respect by the mourning sports fraternity, politicians, denizens of Lalitpur and businessmen, among others, his blackened-moisture-free face bore an expression of sound sleeping.
Shrestha, 49, was a muscular, healthy and active person, free from any disease. He was always filled with enthusiasm, ideas and energy to work. His sudden and untimely demise came as utterly surprising and sad news to everybody who knew him. It was actually a big day for Shrestha’s family. His long-time service and management in Nepali football - formerly as a player and later as a member of football governing body ANFA and managerial duty at Three Star - had fulfilled his lifelong aspiration—constructing a personal home for his family. A deeply religious man, Shrestha had planned to stay a night at his newly constructed house in Bhaisepati, Lalitpur to perform a house warming ceremony before moving in. He wanted to move in at the earliest and since there was no auspicious day for the ‘holy’ ceremony immediately other than Friday, Shrestha had personally delivered the message to his near-and-dear ones through telephone calls in the evening. But in about four hours, he was gone forever.
His new residence had no electricity supply and he wanted to manage electricity for that night by fixing lines with his new neighbors. Sadly, he was exposed to live wire and was electrocuted. He was rushed to Alka Hospital in Jawalakhel and was pronounced dead on arrival.
Shrestha’s devotion to football
Shrestha began his career in football as a player for Three Star Club. He had immense contribution to guiding the club from division ‘D’ to ‘A.’ Nevertheless, he had to quit his career as a player after sustaining a serious knee injury that sidelined him into benches most of the time after that. He played in ‘D’ division for Three Star in 1979; ‘C’ division in 1980; ‘B’ division in 1981 and ‘A’ division in 1982.
He then joined the club as an official and was elected its president in 1993. He was re-elected six years later and had been serving as the chief of the club since then.
Shrestha’s contribution and hard work in establishing Three Star as one of the most prominent clubs in the country had been larger-than-life. During his tenure, the club won two Martyr’s Memorial ‘A’ Division League titles and represented the country in the AFC President's Cup.
He is also credited for taking the popularity of the top flight league to this height through his ideas and work at the club. By forming a star-assembled team at that time, Shrestha secured attractive salary for the club's players. This he materialized by collaborating with reputed corporate organizations for mutual fruitfulness. To help corporate firms in their advertising and promotion through the popularity of football, and securing sponsorship for the club, Shrestha devised an environment that would unleash an inflow of corporate world into club sponsorships. He initiated a tradition where clubs would be named after corporate firms and ‘Nabil Three Star Club’ was his successful initiation.
Shrestha first came into ANFA as its member in 1999. He was appointed its acting president in November last year after its long serving president Ganesh Thapa temporarily stepped down from his chair, initially for four months, following the corruption investigation launched by the Public Account Committee (PAC). He was ANFA’s senior vice-president and spokesperson before.
He was regarded as a person with a spontaneous ability to come up with ideas to solve problems during crises. No other ANFA official came close to Shrestha in leading ANFA and giving it a way out from its current uncertain and controversial deadlock. Moreover he was never tainted with accusations of making money through unethical means. While most of his colleagues, and even players from his club, drove around in their private cars, Shrestha loved his old bike like his child.
On Saturday afternoon, Chairman of Constituent Assembly Subash Nembang, CPN-UML President KP Sharma Oli, Nepali Congress General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula, RPP-N Chairman Kamal Thapa, UCPN (Maoist) vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha, CA Member and ANFA President Ganesh Thapa paid tribute to Shrestha at ANFA complex. Minister of Youth and Sports Purushottam Paudel paid him respect to him by draping the national flag over Shrestha’s deceased body.
Shrestha was awarded the AFC Service Award in 2013 by Asian Football Confederation for his contribution to the development of Nepali football in his service spanning over three decades. His loss has certainly created an irreparable hole in the ANFA.
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