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Nepalese Football Fans Turning to Cricket
Sport growing on success of local teams and increased coverage
Radheshyam Dahal (rsdahal)     Print Article 
Published 2006-01-09 16:53 (KST)   
A Beckham fan prepares to toss a cricket ball on a pitch in Katmandu at the weekend.
©2006 Radheshyam
Katmandu resident Bimal considers himself one of the city's biggest David Beckham fans. Only now the English football icon may have some competition in Nepal's arena of popularity as young fans like Bimal increasingly turn their attention toward cricket.

In coffee shops and other public places, Nepalis are buzzing about cricket, talking about recent matches and analyzing players and teams, perhaps more than about football.

Although it is not an easy sport to understand, that hasn't stopped Nepalis' curiosity. Only a few years ago, there were just 100 to 200 fans attending international standard matches held locally. Now several hundred are spending entire days watching matches.

Nepalis aren't simply spectators, they're winning too - Nepal has won the cricket Youth Asia Cup title three times.

Fans playing local matches on a cricket pitch in Katmandu.
©2006 Radheshyam
Nepalese sports authorities are catching on to the hype and planning to establish an Asian Cricket Academy in the country. Officials attribute some of the popularity to its crossover from neighboring India, where longtime cricket supporters still patronize the game and professional players are paid well. Others say it's because of an increase of matches being telecast in Nepal on sports channels.

Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries are already following the sport. And in other regions, nations more famous for their football such as Holland are investing more in cricket.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Radheshyam Dahal

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