When Nepali girls reached the final of the ACC Women’s Cup last year in Malaysia, the girls of Eastern Nepal thought they missed an opportunity – there were no girls from the region having good grassroots level cricket.

Two eastern cricketing centers, Biratnagar and Birgunj, didn’t send teams in the national championship – the selection event for the first ever national women’s team. Not to waste another opportunity, the girls of Biratnagar are learning cricket.

Two dozens girls, aged 8 to 19, spend three hours a day at the Sahid Stadium learning cricket from coach Pradeep Raj Pandey. The training began under the initiative of Nepal Cricket Fan Club and Youth Initiatives with the equipment provided by Mainroah Cricket Academy.

“I am learning basics of batting, I will slowly move to bowling,” Roji Rai, a bachelors level student at Mahendra Morang Campus says. Roji dreams of becoming an all-rounder and admires Austrialian captain Ricky Ponting. “I love wathcing Ponting bat,” she adds.

For Sabina Karki of Pokharia, learning cricket’s rules is difficult. “There is a lot of styles and rules, so it is difficult to learn but interesting too,” she expresses adding that she joined the training when she heard about it. “We only watched cricket on television, but now we are playing it,” a beaming Bachelors level student says.

For 18-year-old Divya Shikha Singh of Tintoliya, playing cricket was a long-lasting hobby. She began playing when she was in school and her family never discouraged her. “I believe with hardwork and committment, we can earn name and fame from cricket,” she believes.

For all those on the training camp, the first target is to make to the regional team for the national championship and then to get selected to represent the nation in the 2008 ACC Women’s Cup.

“A few are good, two to three girls are of ability to represent the nation,” coach Pandey informed. “Our aim is to make a regional team for the national and I believe with regular training, some of these girls will emerge as national heroes.”

Pandey is focusing on batting at the beginning. “It’s difficult to win matches without strong batting,” he says adding that he would gradually move to bowling and fielding.

Originally Published in The Kathmandu Post. Reporting/first photo by Raju Ghising & remaining photos by NepalCricket Fan Club.

A discussion thread on the training initiation is here.