Nawayug Shrestha is one of those few people who need no introduction. No true Nepali can ever forget the moment when he made that winning goal against India and brought home the 2016 SAG Championship title. Shrestha plays for Nepal Army Club and is a proud member of the Nepal’s national football team. Being an inspiration that he is to many Nepalis, Nawayug has shown us the ‘new era’ in the history of Nepali football. To know more about him, the team of Colleges Nepal grabbed an opportunity to chit-chat with the hat-trick king himself.
What inspired you to be a footballer?
I have always been fascinated by football since my childhood. When I was at school, I used to participate in the school tournaments. I was watching Nepal play against Bangladesh in the SAFF Championship, sadly, Nepal lost 0-1 to Bangladesh. I felt bad then and dreamt of playing for the national team one day.
How do you see yourself? Are you more of a footballer or an army man?
I am an army man first and then a footballer. I got to be a part of the football team only after joining the army. So, I would always prefer to call myself an army man.
With stardom, you also have to face a lot of criticism. How do you handle them?
Some think I am arrogant, some think I am not. It’s not possible to satisfy everyone so I don’t think much about it. I just focus on my game and try to give my best.
What is your goal in life?
Earlier my aim was to be a national player and now that I am, I aim to break the record of Hari Dai who has scored 13 goals.
You are still recovering from a leg injury and had to miss the match with Philippines. Do you regret not playing the match?
It’s very difficult to focus on anything else when you are injured. One just keeps on worrying about getting healed. Not being able to play major games is definitely heart wrecking.
In your opinion, what opportunities and challenges are there for a person to develop his/her career in football here?
Just being a competent footballer is not enough to build a career in football in Nepal. Here, we don’t have enough infrastructures need for a proper training including football ground. My friends who used to play football with me have gone abroad. If the scenario was right, they might not have left the game.
In which aspects does Nepali football lack?
In other countries player are provided with every types of training kits. Here, we have to train by ourselves and salary is also not satisfactory. We don’t play league games here and that’s a problem too.
How long do you plan to play?
As long as my health and age support me I will not leave football.
You are a role model to many youngsters. How do you feel about it?
If you are a role model, you are being watched and followed by many. You have to be more careful about your own behaviors and avoid making mistakes. One has a lot of responsibilities.
Your message to your fans?
Without your support and love, players are nothing. Today if I am a star it’s because of my fans. Players won’t be able to score or win every time; sometimes we get injured or fall sick. I hope my fans will always love and support me and always be there with me in my ups and downs.