I came to Australia from Nepal in 2002. I lived in Sydney for a few years before moving to Canberra. Both cities were very different to my hometown of Pokhara, Nepal, for many reasons – including the local love of cricket. I had heard of cricket back home, but only because of the popularity of former Indian captain Sachin Tendulkar over the border. As kids we played football (called soccer in Australia).
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It was only in 2003 that I started watching cricket on television. Zimbabwe was touring Australia, with Heath Streak the captain of the touring team. One of my friends, Saroj, patiently explained terms like ‘over’ and ‘ODI’. It took about ten explanations before I understood what an “LBW” was. So it all started back in 2003, the love for the game of cricket.
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Fast forward to 2014. After a decade of watching cricket in just about every stadium in Australia and some of New Zealand, I was determined to raise the profile of cricket in Nepal. So I teamed up with Andrew Dawson, who was then the high performance manager at ACT Cricket. I planned to open a Cricket Academy in Pokhara, Nepal, called Buddha Cricket Academy.
All events leading up to the occasion were smooth. We travelled to Nepal to run a cricket coaching clinic and to inaugurate the Cricket Academy. Nepal had just qualified to play in the 2014 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh.  Things were looking really good. We couldn’t be happier. We opened the Academy on April 24th, 2014 and had 70 kids sign up for our coaching clinic. Andrew and I ran two clinics each day – one in the morning and one in the evening.
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It was a surreal time for me, and Nepal was in a really happy mood too. Every youngster and elder knew what cricket was. They knew Captain “Paras Khadka”. The love of cricket was at an all-time high. In the World Cup, Nepal nearly edged the hosts Bangladesh and went on to play the super eights against the likes of Australia, England and India.
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We opened the cricket academy with the aim to assist the development of grassroots cricket in Nepal, the way it is here in Australia. Nepal didn’t have a robust Cricket governing body, it didn’t have robust grassroots cricket structure or any meaningful domestic cricket schedule. We thought we were on the right path, having ticked all the boxes.
Two years later, we Nepal suffered a massive earthquake, and I don’t have a Cricket Academy. After the earthquake the numbers dwindled and I was under pressure to sell the place to make way for a different kind of business to move in.
Then this week, I discovered that the International Cricket Council (ICC) has suspended Cricket Association of Nepal. As a result, Nepal won’t receive any ICC funding to take the game of cricket forward.
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The ICC says it suspended the Cricket Association of Nepal’s funding because of government interference with the board. While Nepal’s national teams are still allowed to feature in ICC events, more needs to be done to help Nepal develop the infrastructure and funding to raise cricket’s profile in the region.
I’m very sad today. This unwelcome political intervention undoes all of the hard work that Nepal’s national cricket team achieved for the whole nation. I don’t want to be impacted by this news though. I plan to go ahead and lead a cricket and culture trip to Nepal this September during the ACT school holidays.
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I am doing this to bring in smile in faces of the kids in Nepal. What better way to do it other than with sport? I am calling for cricket clubs, schools, and colleges to put forward an expression of interest for this fantastic travel opportunity. The trip includes:
  • Travel to world heritage sites in Kathmandu
  • 5 x T20 games against schools and clubs in Pokhara
  • 2 x days trekking in the Annapurnas
  • A mountain school visit.
To find out more or to register your interest, go to The Buddha Odyssey website.
Lachhu Thapa
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