Cricket hopes to help rebuild Nepal
Nepal's cricket infrastructure took a hit due to the April 25 earthquake, but the sport's primary concern at the moment is to reach out to the people and play a role in the relief efforts, says Bhawana Ghimire, the chief executive of the Cricket Association of Nepal.
Has the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) been taking any steps to assist with the relief work?
The CAN has officially announced an aid package of 100,000 Nepalese rupees (approx. USD 1000). However, a lot more is being done outside the officially announced package. My contract was recently extended by three months and I have donated my entire salary for those three month towards earthquake relief. Other members of our staff have also donated one month's salary. We have also been able to mobilise another 3,000,000 Nepalese Rupees (approx. USD 30,000) through other stakeholders and fans, with further donations continuing to come through. Our senior players have contributed significantly by raising more than 3,000,000 Nepalese Rupees (approx. USD 30,000). Everybody is contributing to help us battle this disaster and we will continue our efforts until some normalcy is restored.
What relief work have you undertaken?
We have been actively partaking in the relief activities. This is our duty and we need to do more than just providing monetary help. I want to take these efforts to the next level so that we are able to recover and rebuild keeping in mind long-term progress. We visited Sindhuli district this week, one of the worst-affected regions, to distribute relief material such as tents, mattresses, food as well sanitary items to about 150 families. Our team has also gone to Sindhupalchowk District, another severely-affected area and we will soon be heading to the epicenter district this week to provide further relief. We urge everyone, specifically the cricket community, to support Nepal in this turbulent time.
What are you major challenges at this point, and how do you plan to address them?
We have two primary challenges. First, rebuilding Nepal and then rebuilding cricket in Nepal. The CAN will work on both challenges. We have planned a 'Bat for Nepal' project whereby we hope to play at least eight matches against international teams/clubs inside a two-year time frame to raise funds for the rehabilitation of our country.
In the short term, we need to take steps to restore and reconstruct the cricketing facilities that have been destroyed. The boundary surrounding the Tribhuvan University ground is essentially non-existent now, with the player's changing rooms also suffering cracks. The indoor facilities and academy have also been affected and are in need of urgent maintenance. The pavilion at the Mulpani ground has also endured a few cracks and the building itself has gone a little lower into the ground. With enough governmental support, the CAN will ensure that both the Mulpani stadium and the Tribhuvan University ground are up and running very soon.
We have also had to cancel a few scheduled events. For example, 52 players had been selected to be part of a Super Talent League which was to be announced on 26th April, a day after the devastating earthquake struck. I am hopeful that the ICC will support us in the same way that they did post the 2004 Tsunami when they organised a World XI v Asia XI match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Have you been receiving support from the global cricket fraternity?
Yes, the wishes and support have been pouring in. After this catastrophic incident, the International Cricket Council, Asian Cricket Council and specifically Cricket Australia have shown great concern. This is especially because the earthquake has come just two weeks after our successful conduct of the Phillip Hughes Memorial Tribute Match and our climber was on his way to the base camp of Mount Everest where Hughes' bat and playing jersey were being taken. Our climber is safe and has now returned to Kathmandu.
Even smaller cricketing nations like Malaysia, Netherlands and Japan have pledged their support. Hosting charity matches, tournaments or initiating movements to help the Nepalese people recover from this natural calamity. We have even received support from the Italian Olympic Committee.
Bishen Jeswant is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo