About football in Nepal: interview with Harish Karki

A while ago I got in touch with Harish Karki, a young referee in the Nepalese football leagues. In 2018, he was the youngest ever to referee in those leagues: the 23-year-old got a lot of media attention. Jan from Dutchreferee.com did a nice interview with him three years ago. Last week I got in touch with Harish: we spoke about his career so far, his goals, and of course refereeing in Nepal in general. By the way: we spoke English, so I decided to write it out in English too – it’s easier for Harish to read English than Dutch!

Harish (in the middle) during the toss

Yungref: First of all, how does one become a referee in Nepal? And how did you get involved?

Harish: “You won’t believe it, but it’s very hard to follow a referee course in Nepal. There’s only one course every two years: no wonder there are so few referees in our leagues.

I became a referee when I was eighteen, back in 2014. It just seemed like a nice thing to do, officiating games. The course was long and hard, because the Laws Of The Game were hard and difficult to study. But I succeeded and immediately started refereeing. Three years later I made my debut in our first league, which made me the youngest referee ever in Nepal who reached that level. I was very happy of course, and that was just the beginning…”

Yungref: And what does football in Nepal look like? Is it played on a high level, are there a lot of different categories, how are the teams…?

Harish: “It’s really different than in Europe. We only have a few leagues: the teams are classified by city, and we don’t have games every weekend like you guys. For example, I train for three weeks, and on the fourth we all have our games. It’s a bit more complicated. But the level is quite okay, actually. But unfortunately the Corona pandemic broke out all over Nepal, so there were no games for a long while. But this September we will restart again, and we’ll see what happens. I hope I will be able to make my debut at the highest level: and that’s good for me, because than I can challenge myself more and more.”

Yungref: How do you prepare your games physically and mentally? Do you have to travel a lot?

Harish: “I train a lot to keep myself in good shape: endurance, high-intensity, the lot… But as a first league referee, the mental part is equally important. Therefore, I study the Laws Of The Game over and over again. I do my mental and physical training every day. Because if you want to get appointed for the big games, you have to be really fit.”

Yungref: If I’m right, you also follow FIFA seminars. Why are these courses essential for young referees like you?

Harish: “As a young referee, it felt amazing to get invited over there! I finally had the chance to get noticed there and put the Nepalese FA on the map. And the seminar itself was one of the best moments in my career so far: we were trained by the very same elite instructors who work with the elite referees – the best of the best. So to go over there and train with other referees from all over Asia, to get in touch with those refs and make new friends: that was absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately, it’s already been a while: because of Covid-19 they couldn’t organise it anymore.”

Yungref: Any advice/tips for us young referees?

Harish: “The biggest advice is pretty simple: work hard physically and mentally, do it to invest in your passion. And of course: be hungry for the big games. If you work hard and are always motivated, and if you’re determined, it will be so much easier to achieve those big games. Also: have fun during your trainings and games. If you do what you do with a smile, it will be easier… ”

Yungref: What are the biggest things you’ve learned in your career? Can you use those experiences also off the field, in your work for example?

Harish: “The self-discipline you need to have to reach your dreams. If you don’t work to achieve your goals, you won’t reach them. So that’s why it’s very important to always do your trainings, study the Laws Of The Game, and be well-prepared for your games.”

Yungref: Last but not least: what do you still want to achieve in your career?

Harish: “Of course I only want one thing and that’s to reach the highest level possible: the elite. But I also hope to get more important and nice game appointments. That, and another invitation for a FIFA seminar, because that was such a nice experience. And last, to have lots of fun in the upcoming years.”

Thanks for the nice conversation Harish, I wish you all the best in your career! I’ve learned quite a bit about how football is organized abroad, and thanks for stressing the importance of being in shape, physically and mentally.

Want to know more about Harish? Check his Facebook page.

How does football look in your country? Do you guys have a special system of refereeing? Let me know in the comments, and see you soon!

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