Against all odds, Nepal has reached the semi-finals of the Under 19 Youth Asia Cup, defeating and ousting India. This could potentially be a game changer for Nepal. Even the Indian U19 coach Rahul Dravid was impressed with Nepal’s performance and went to say that Nepal is playing the best cricket in ongoing Asia Cup. Despite power-tussle within the suspended Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) and the lack of resources and support, our young boys have made Nepal proud internationally. We salute their effort in Malaysia. This victory is also a call on the government to create all necessary infrastructures to further boost the confidence of these heroes. It has been 16 years since we started talking about the Mulpani Cricket Ground. The venue was opened this week. The associated government agencies must not turn blind eye to support the development of cricket in Nepal. CAN remains suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC). This has hampered the development of both our national and age-group teams. Resources have been cut and our participation outside of Nepal has been limited. Mulpani is yet to host an international match, and Nepal’s only international ground is still owned by Tribhuvan University and Pokhara’s cricket ground is set to be demolished for government quarters. We cannot make cricket competitive this way.
Nothing brings us together as a nation than sports. Cricket is loved here in Nepal. Our national team reached the World T20 in 2014. It was in 2001/02 U19 World Cup when Nepal won against two Asian giants in cricket: Pakistan and Bangladesh. Similarly, South Africa, New Zealand and Zimbabwe have also fallen short against Nepal. Nepal has the perfect location and the weather to present itself as a cricket hub in South Asia. Dhangadhi has been branded as the ‘The City of Cricket.’ Big commercial companies have shown keen interest in promoting the city of cricket. We want to see active involvement of CAN, the government and private sector in supporting and promoting cricket.
It is supremely important to groom young players so they go on to lead national teams in future. If we fail to invest in our young players today, we will then fail to have a strong national team tomorrow. Cricket has produced phenomenal results for us in the last decade, both from age-group and the national team. National team captain Paras Khadka commands the respect and a lot of young people look up to him for inspiration. We need to develop robust support mechanism for our sporting teams so that we can rejoice in their victory internationally. We want to see our major political parties talk about sports in the upcoming elections and hear them of future support to cricket. Let us unite behind our sports team and help them produce the best result for the country everywhere they compete. Nepal’s victories in U19 cricket have made it clear that our players are capable of competing with the best in cricket. We need to respond with the best possible measures to ensure that they can maintain this momentum.