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From Nepal With Love: Understanding the Global Impact of The Premier League

By Sarad Shrestha (EPL Talk): One thing people cannot contest is the impact the Premier League has had all over the world. The Premier League is undoubtedly the most popular league in the world. It is estimated that the Premier League is broadcast to 600+ million viewers in over 200 countries. It is no secret that its influence is immense. The Premier League affects the lives of millions of people and has become a culture outside England. The global impact the Premier League has had is unrivaled by any other soccer league in the world.

When Didier Drogba smashes in a goal or Michael Essien executes a crunching challenge with perfection, it is greeted by huge cheers in the streets of Abidjan and Accra. Park Ji-Sung is considered a hero in South Korea for his exploits at Manchester United. Former stars such as Jay Jay Okocha and Lucas Radebe have achieved so much in the English game that they have brought pride to Nigeria and South Africa respectively. Children all around the world have their favorite Premier League team and players that they dream of emulating.

It is no different here in the small nation of Nepal, which is thousands of miles from England. We do not have any players of our own plying their trade in the English Premier League with whom we can idolize or worship, but the impact of the Premier League still remains huge.

So, what it is like watching the Premier League in Nepal? Most people know Nepal as the country which is home to Mt. Everest or as the land of the brave Gurkhas. Nepal is not a country that can be immediately associated with soccer. The state of soccer in Nepal is not great. Currently ranked 153rd in the world, the facilities present for soccer players is terrible compared to the European Nations or many Asian countries.

The domestic league is stop-start and not properly managed. Most of the local league matches are played in the same stadium as there exist few quality venues. The infrastructure for the development of young players is also weak. Parents do not encourage their children to take up soccer as a profession because of the lack of scope and the money that footballers earn is not enough to sustain a living once you retire.

You might think with such poor state of affairs that people are not really interested in soccer. Well, you’re wrong. People in Nepal are massive soccer fans. Soccer is without a doubt the most popular sport in Nepal. It is not due to lack of interest or talent that soccer has not been able flourish in Nepal; It is down to bad management and lack of infrastructure. Once you experience the passion of soccer mong the people whenever the National Team plays, you’ll see how the stadium will always be jam-packed and the atmosphere created by the fans is electric.

Nepal may not be able to produce a player good enough for the Premier League any time soon, but the popularity of the Premier League in Nepal cannot be matched by any other league. There is a huge fan base of famous clubs and players such as Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard. These are the most popular names on the lips of Nepalese soccer fans. Every act of genius in the Premier League is well appreciated in Nepal.

The passion among the fans of the clubs they follow cannot understandably be compared to the fans in England, but this is not to say the fans in Nepal are not passionate about their clubs. The sentiments that fans in Nepal share are not too dissimilar to those of fans in England. There are Chelsea fans genuinely worried about their next managerial appointment. There are Arsenal fans who are frustrated by the trophy drought that their team is suffering.

Fans here love their club and they cannot stand criticism from rival fans. There are always arguments among friends every week defending their club. It’s wonderful to see the passion come out in support of their clubs. Viewing the Premier League in Nepal has been made possible thanks to the ESPN STAR group. The timing of matches is also favorable in this part of the continent. The traditional 3 o’clock kick-off in England corresponds to 7:30 pm in Nepal, which I find is a good time to watch a game. If there is a late night kick-off, people make it a point to stay awake until three in the morning and watch their beloved team play even if it means waking up tired for school or work the next day.

Every weekend is eagerly anticipated and the any match played in the Premier League keeps us glued to the screen. The atmosphere created in the grounds, the fast paced games, tackles flying in left and right — it’s why we simply love the Premier League. We get unbounded joy when our team wins and inconsolable disappointment when the team loses. It is amazing to see how the English Premier League affects lives of so many people of a small nation like Nepal which is thousands of miles away. The people here are very thankful to the English Premier League for providing us so much joy and entertainment throughout the years. To answer the question of which is the best league in the league. For the people of Nepal without a shadow of a doubt it is the English Premier League.

Published Date: Tuesday, April 17th, 2012 | 01:42 AM

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