Passion for sports runs deep. Football–whether European or American–attracts global interest. Baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, and volleyball have phenomenal players and loyal fans. And there’s cricket. Despite its international appeal, American spectators often scratch their heads trying to understand the game. But in countries such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, it is viewed as the popular sport of gentlemen. Nepali graduate student Sijan Dahal arrived this fall to Minnesota State Mankato where, since 2008, cricket has maintained a strong presence on campus and in the region. While he is still making those cricket connections, he shares his passion for a sport that has given him friends, memories, and life lessons. Read how cricket has taken him on his personal journey toward fulfillment.
I was born with a passion for sports, but there was one game that had a special place in my heart – cricket.
Growing up in Nepal, I was introduced to this beautiful gentleman’s game by my cousin’s brother when I was just eight years old. Our makeshift cricket pitch was the narrow alley between two houses, a cramped space that barely allowed room for a proper game. However, the size of our playground didn’t stop us; it only fueled our determination.
My cousin and I were the dynamic duo, switching between batting and bowling roles as needed. We didn’t need a full team to enjoy the game; the two of us were enough to create endless cricketing memories. Sometimes even our uncle would join us, turning it into a family event on that little concrete strip.
In school, cricket enthusiasts were rare, but I wasn’t discouraged. Every day, I carried my cricket bat and ball, hoping to find someone, hoping to meet someone who would enjoy the game as much as I did. After school, I would eat my lunch on the way home and then sprint 10 minutes home. The cricket field, where I would meet up with the older boys from the neighboring neighborhood, was my final stop.
The problem was that I couldn’t always count on them to show up and play. When I got to the field, my heart would be beating in anticipation of their appearance, and the opportunity to test my abilities against older players.
Years rolled by and my passion for the sport only intensified. Cricket remained my first love, but I expanded my horizons to include tennis, football, and other sports. But cricket always kept a particular place in my heart. It was a game that had taught me about teamwork, rivalry, and the excitement of pursuing a dream. It was a way of life, not simply a sport. And I was determined to remain on this path, accepting the highs and lows that came with it.
In 2013, just after graduating from school, I stumbled upon a golden opportunity that would shape my cricketing journey. The National Cricket Academy announced that it will coach young cricketer. I was eager and passionate to take part in this training and was passionate about it.
A few days later, I was in front of the Tribhuvan University cricket round. There was constant rain falling. Aspiring cricket players gathered in the hopes of being accepted into the academy. I waited impatiently and when I opportunity came, I managed to secure a spot in the academy.
During the training sessions, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Instead of my usual tennis ball, I found myself holding a real leather cricket ball. That shiny, new leather ball in my left hand represented of the path I was going to take.
The academy experience was nothing short of transformational. I improved my skills under the watchful eyes of such true Nepali cricketing legends as Kalam Ali, a renowned Nepali fast bowler, and Binod Das, a former captain of the Nepali Cricket Team. The academy also created lasting relationships with other cricket enthusiasts sharing similar values and objectives. My stay at the National Cricket Academy gave me a sense of discipline, cooperation, and a tremendous love for the game. The experience shaped some of the finest times of my life.
As I continued my education, my focus on academics grew. I couldn’t dedicate as much time to cricket as before. However, my love for the game remained the same. Every time sports week came around, my friends and I would get together, create a team, and enjoy every second on the field. I was able to fuel my cricketing spirit on these brief, yet wonderful, moments. Cricket has been ingrained in the very fibers of who I am. It was more than simply a sport to me; it was a part of my life.
My passion for cricket is unwavering, and it was a love that would stay with me until my last breath. The game has given me so much—friends, memories, and life lessons. I will forever cherish it. Cricket isn’t just a game; it is a lifelong companion, a source of joy, and a reminder of the beauty of sports in uniting people and fostering a love that transcended boundaries.
Sijan Dahal is the Graduate Assistant for the Centennial Student Union Communications Office.