By Sudeep Sharma
Cricket is not just a game; it’s much more than that. Recently, one of my friends, Sanjay Kafle, an agriculture student and an avid traveler was traveling to southern Parbat, a remote area in Western Nepal. He came across a young boy, aged around 12 named Prashant Neupane.
This kid is a huge cricket fan and a big admirer of Paras Khadka, captain of the Nepal cricket team. He follows all cricketing activities of Nepal on Television and old newspapers. But, the hard part is that there is load-shedding for 12 hours a day in his area. As a result, he gets very few chances to watch cricket, but, whenever he gets it, he never misses an opportunity. There are few alternatives to newspapers in the rough terrain; whenever he finds an old newspaper, he turns to the sports page and is glued to it. He also collects news and photos of national and international cricketers and pastes them in his journal.
Prashant’s involvement with the game doesn’t end there. Lying not far from him is a handmade plastic ball, and a bat. He says that he had twice cut his hand and legs while making this bat. His father, Rukmangat Neupane informed whenever his son gets time he is busy with his bat and ball.
He said, “He puts three sticks at one end and keeps bowling from the other. He also throws the ball onto the wall and keep batting the whole day. He said most of the walls in his house have ball marks on it. He has no friends to play cricket with, as nobody understands the game in his village. He added that whenever any guest or relative visits his home, he starts asking them questions related to cricket.
This kid has kept records of players in a separate copy, cutting photos from newspapers, and has meticulously segregated information: M stands for number of matches he has watched of any particular player, R denotes total runs scored, B stands for the player’s best performance. He shared about his interest in cricket and eagerness to represent Nepal at the international level.
This little boy leaves people stumped when he starts sharing his knowledge of cricket. He is well informed about national and international records of players, complete with a repository of personal information that stretches to their hobbies too. He also has a fair idea of IPL, Big Bash, Ranji Trophy and other domestic matches in Nepal and India.
He was desperately eager to go Kathmandu to see the World Cricket League Championship match between Nepal and Namibia, which was played from April 16 to 18. Persistence paid rich dividends in his case and his parents relented; mind you, both of Prashant’s parents are handicapped. His father’s legs are not functional, stricken by polio, and his mother doesn’t have a right hand. Travelling to Nepal’s capital city was going to be an arduous journey for the family.
Sanjay posted his story in a ‘Group’ on Facebook. He was trying to figure out people who could help him reach Kathmandu to watch the game and meet his heroes. This came to the notice of the Director of Great Himalaya Cricket Academy, Sudeep Sharma and initiator of Cricket Parbat group, Sujan Sharma. They decided to bring Prashant to Kathmandu and made arrangements for him to watch the game, kick-starting his dream. He arrived at Kathmandu, accompanied by his father and Sanjay Kafle. Cricket Parbat bore all the expenses for Prashant and his family’s travel and accommodation. Sudeep Sharma arranged a meeting with Khadka and a special sitting in the TU stadium along with player’s family.