A footballer’s fascination with booksBikram Lama, a former national team player, talks about how reading has helped him overcome difficult situations.
While one wouldn’t typically associate a national-level sportsperson with avid reading, footballer Bikram Lama stands out because of his love of books. Now 34, Lama’s football adventure began when he was just 14, chosen by All Nepal Football Association (ANFA). His remarkable debut on the national stage came in a memorable match against Pakistan in 2012. However, it was the SAFF Championship in 2013, where Nepal triumphed over India, that truly put him in the spotlight. Renowned as ‘Tackle Lama,’ his midfield prowess was marked by exceptional sliding tackles and impeccable passing skills.
His playing days have come to an end, but Lama’s passion for football burns brighter than ever. With a firm belief that knowledge is the key to mastering anything in life, he has chosen to delve into the world of research. To achieve his ambitions, he is currently pursuing the AFC Football Management Certificate (FMC) through online courses.
Beyond the field, there’s a lesser-known side to Bikram Lama—his insatiable appetite for reading. In this interview with the Post’s Rukusha Giri, he sheds light on how books have impacted his life and career.
How and when did you start developing a reading habit?
When I was younger, I didn’t enjoy reading books. However, living in the valley meant we frequently experienced power outages. During these times, my family would have dinner in the dark, and my grandmother would tell us bedtime stories. Listening to her stories calmed me even though I didn’t understand much. This inspired me to read such stories myself.
Around the same time, I developed a fondness for the monthly magazine ‘Muna’, which contained various children’s stories. As I grew older, I noticed that the magazine began including biographies of famous personalities, which I found fascinating. This intensified my curiosity for books, and I gradually began exploring other genres.
In school, I excelled in Nepali subjects and was rewarded with books by my teachers. This helped solidify my habit of reading books.
Which genres do you enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?
During my school years, I enjoyed reading fictional stories as they took me away to faraway places I could only imagine and had a calming effect on me.
However, as I started playing football, my interest shifted to real life stories of people, so I read biographies. I like biographies. They motivate me and bring me a sense of relief to learn about the many hurdles people face and how they overcome them.
In 2018, I was on bed rest because of a football injury. During that time, I read a ton of biographies of inspiring individuals who motivated me to remain resilient. Despite the severity of my injury, I persevered, thanks to their stories. One book that profoundly impacted me was Vijay Kumar Panday’s ‘Khushi’, where he delves into the true essence of happiness. I found the book authentic and practical.
Amidst your busy schedule, how do you find the time to read?
In my spare time, I enjoy reading books that capture my attention. Although I don’t always have the time to read as much as I like, I read whenever possible, especially when travelling.
How has reading books influenced your approach to football?
People’s reading habits vary depending on their profession and how they spend their free time. Books are undoubtedly helpful in shaping all professions. Even though reading up on sports may not have a direct effect on the field, players can learn the fundamentals of self-control, patience, and motivation from books that inspire them to work harder.
When playing on the field, I don’t focus on my thoughts, so books have not directly influenced my matches. However, I have encountered various positive and negative aspects of life through reading biographies of prolific players which has inspired me to strive for a good life and avoid wrongdoings.
Moreover, reading has instilled discipline in both my personal and professional life. Apart from that, I am also taking a football course to enhance my knowledge of the sport.
What are you reading right now?
Currently, I am reading a biography of the retired Scottish football manager and player Alex Ferguson.
Although I haven’t finished reading the book yet, I regret that I did not pick it up earlier—when I was active in the industry. In it, Ferguson imparts valuable insights into the qualities coaches and players must possess.
Bikram Lama’s book recommendations