Asia: Subarna Shrestha: Nurturing the future of Hockey in Nepal


the lead up to the International Women’s Day 2024, a year that marks 100 years of the International Hockey Federation (FIH), we are speaking with women in hockey, who have made major contributions towards the growth of the sport over the past few decades. 

In today’s story, we feature Subarna Shrestha, recently elected Secretary General of Nepal Hockey Association, and long-term administrator with the Asian Hockey Federation. 

Hockey was Subarna’s favourite sport throughout her childhood. She grew up watching the sport on television and always harboured a dream of getting involved with the sport. “Watching the game on TV proved to be extremely entertaining. The tactful and elegant stick skills of Dhanraj Pillay, Tahir Zaman, Shahbaz Ahmed kept me glued to the screen. As hockey activities were limited while I was growing up in Nepal, my dream has been to develop and promote the sport in Nepal, so more people could play it.”

Having followed and been involved in hockey for a long time, Subarna has had a front row seat to the evolution of the game. She believes evolution and innovation is good for the sport and highlights some of the changes she believes have been crucial over the years: “The shift from two halves to four quarters made the game faster and more interesting to watch. Also use of personal protection equipment made the game much safer for the players. The introduction of newer formats; indoor hockey and Hockey5s have made the sport popular among the youth, specially the speed with which Hockey5s is played seems to be favoured by young players.”

Speaking on the importance of a community in developing sport, Subarna said, “In a hockey developing nation like Nepal not everything goes as planned and sometimes the plan takes longer than expected to execute. In recent times, we have received support from local government authorities as well as local sports authorities. We have acquired land necessary to build an artificial turf stadium – the first of its kind in Nepal – with support from Dhulikhel Municipality. The support and encouragement from our players, association members and other stakeholders provides us energy to do more.”

Gender equality in hockey is a core value for Subarna. She was thrilled when hockey became among the first sports to utilise mixed-gender umpires and greatly admired the recent change in Kit Regulations to allow players to wear shorts, skorts, or skirts, giving athletes the personal choice in their playing kit for international hockey. However, she believes there is more that can be achieved in the future, when it comes to women’s participation in sports administration. “Obtaining gender equality and maintaining gender balance not only in participation on field, but also in administrative roles. Currently many of us are focusing on maintaining gender balance in players but we are omitting the maintaining of gender balance in administrative and support roles (coaching/officiating/ administrative/other support roles). Maintaining balance helps not only promote the sport but also in developing a shared vision that portrays both men and women equally.” 

On a personal note, Subarna speaks of the joy hockey continues to bring her on a daily basis. “Hockey has brought me a lot of joy. From watching a young boy/girl receive their first new kit, to witnessing an athlete jumping in joy on receiving their first international cap to represent their nation. Helping the athletes in the various aspects of life to realise their hockey dream gives me immense joy.”

Asked about what advice she would give to the next generation of hockey enthusiasts, Subarna said: “There will be obstacles along the way. The obstacles you face will help you become stronger and better. Don’t lose hope.  Things may not always happen as expected and you will keep facing different challenges. Believe in yourself, be smart, be patient, practise your skills and everything will come to you at the right time.”

by Asia Hockey


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