10 September, Kathmandu
In a poignant turn of events, the national cricket heroes of Nepal, who have brought honor and glory to their nation through stellar performances on the international stage, find themselves in a disheartening situation. Despite achieving remarkable success over the past seven months, the promised government awards, amounting to a substantial 17 lakh rupees, have yet to materialize.
The tale of these cricket stars began with Nepal’s triumphant run in the ICC World Cup League 2 cricket series held in February and March. For each of these series victories, the players were guaranteed a sum of 3 lakh rupees for each of the three series they played. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, further sweetened the pot with an additional 2 lakh rupees for the team. And then came the icing on the cake, a significant 6 lakh rupees that were pledged after Nepal’s glorious victory in the ACC Premier Cup, coupled with their well-earned qualification for the prestigious Asia Cup Cricket tournament. This collection of accolades should have amounted to 17 lakh rupees.
However, the players, who have valiantly represented their nation, remain empty-handed in their hour of well-deserved recognition. This is not merely a story of athletes waiting for their due; it’s a story of their silent struggle, resilience, and dreams deferred. These players, who have shone on the international stage, now find themselves in dire financial straits, struggling to make ends meet.
But the predicament doesn’t end with the senior team. Even the young, aspiring cricketers from the U-19 and U-16 teams, who have shown promise and dedication, face similar uncertainties. The U-19 squad recently secured qualification for the 2024 World Cup in Sri Lanka. The government had pledged 3 lakhs, with an additional 1 lakh from the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN).
For these talented youth, the situation is dire. One player from the U-19 team, who had initially planned to pursue further training in India after the government’s award announcement, is now grappling with the stark reality of unpaid fees. His family’s financial limitations have left him unable to cover his training costs.
The frustration and disappointment among these players are palpable. Despite their continued dedication to representing Nepal on the international cricketing stage, the authorities have seemingly forgotten their promises. The players have been left in the lurch, with no clear indication of when they might receive the awards they were promised.
Adding to the frustration, the national team players have now turned to their captain, Rohit Paudel, in search of answers. Regrettably, Rohit himself remains in the dark regarding the status of the pending awards. In this tumultuous situation, CAN, the governing body of cricket in Nepal, is preoccupied with its own internal elections, diverting attention away from the pressing issue at hand.
In this time of uncertainty and financial strain, the announcement by Arna Beer, recognizing the players’ efforts with cash prizes for outstanding performances against India and Pakistan, has been a bittersweet consolation. While the players are grateful for this gesture, it is a stark reminder of the awards promised by the government that are yet to be delivered.
Their untiring commitment and relentless pursuit of excellence in the sport have not only brought pride to their nation but have also instilled hope and aspiration in aspiring cricketers across Nepal. It is a matter of great concern that the very athletes who have contributed significantly to the nation’s sporting legacy are now grappling with financial hardships due to unfulfilled promises.
This ordeal serves as a somber reminder of the challenges faced by athletes in emerging cricketing nations. It is not just a matter of recognition; it’s about providing support and ensuring that the stars of the future have the resources they need to shine brightly on the global stage. The delay in awarding these hard-earned accolades is not just a bureaucratic hiccup; it is a setback to the dreams and aspirations of these dedicated athletes.
As the nation watches in anticipation, the hope is that the government will swiftly address this issue, not merely as a matter of policy but as a gesture of gratitude and encouragement to the athletes who continue to make Nepal proud. The cricketing heroes of Nepal deserve not just recognition but the support and motivation they need to keep shining on the global stage. Their plight serves as a stark reminder that the dreams of these dedicated athletes should never be held hostage to bureaucratic delays and political preoccupations.