Dhangadhi- Cricket in Dhangadhi has been taking giant leaps and there is one man behind Dhangadhi’s rise – Subash Shahi. Organizer of the SPA Cup, President of Dhangadhi Cricket Academy (DCA), vice-president of Dhangadhi Cricket Association, and once opener for Region No.6 Baitadi; Shahi is taken almost as a father figure by budding cricketers here. Shahi has now set an eye on developing Dhangadhi as “Cricket Capitol of Nepal” and is currently investing his time on building the Fapla Cricket Ground. Cricnepal’s Dhangadhi correspondent Yagya Raj Joshi met with Shahi at Fapla Cricket Ground where they talked about Shahi’s role in Dhangadhi’s rise.
1) When did you first involve yourself in cricket?
I was passionate about cricket since my childhood. I used to play a lot of cricket in my school and in those days I dreamed of being in the national colors. Nepal cricket was in its infancy. I could not commit the needed time and was not able to pursue that dream. Now I want other kids who share the same dream to achieve that dream and be professional players. That is the reason I got involved in this field. I returned to Dhangadhi in 2010 after completing my studies and since then I have been working to promote local cricket here.
2) How was Cricket in Dhangadhi back then?
It was very weak. There weren’t many good players. Grounds were scarce and because of that there wouldn’t be many tournaments. Even when tournaments were organized there wouldn’t be any audiences. And players-they did not even take the game that seriously-they would be playing matches with their jeans.
3) How different are things now?
Things have taken a U-Turn now. What can give you an idea of how cricket has taken a tad professional shape in Dhangadhi is that the locals here are ready to pay for tickets to watch cricket matches. We are organizing some real big tournaments like the SPA Cup and now the two day matches of NPL. With establishment of cricket academies and clubs, the region has started producing good players. If its about cricket, everyone is ready to lend a helping hand-like APF helping with Fapla Ground. New grounds are being built- Fapla Cricket Ground hasn’t yet been completed and there are talks about building one more at Jugeda. People have now starting calling Dhandagi “Cricket Capitol of Nepal”. But still there is lot to be done.
4) When the first edition of SPA Cup was organized, Cricket wasn’t very popular in Dhangadhi. How did you manage to make it such a huge success?
Even back then I had seen huge possibilities in cricket here. I felt that something big had to be done which would give a push to the game. I purposed for SPA Cup with budget of 4 lakhs. People laughed when we explained that SPA Cup would incorporate teams from all over Nepal. Since a cricket tournament (with such huge budget and plans of inviting teams from all over Nepal) had never been organized before, many thought such event, that too Dhangadhi was impossible. Many said we were only bluffing. But we were committed and we did it as well. The fourth edition of the same tournament will now be hosted with budget of 40 lakhs. The success of SPA Cup has also taught people here that if you give your 100% effort, nothing is impossible.
5. And cricket started moving up?
No! Things never magically happen on its own-you have to work for them. SPA Cup attracted peoples attention to the game but we were still lacking good cricketers. I realized that one had to invest on cricket at grass root level to produce good cricketers. With that in mind we established Dhandhadi Cricket Academy (DCA). DCA has been a big help to boost cricket in this region. In just one year we have organized 5 tournaments with DCA. The team representing DCA has toured Sri Lanka and India as well. The tour gave our players decent match exposure and opportunity to work on their weakness. We wanted the tours to go both ways so team from Mumbai will be here in Dhangadi in few days.
6. Tell us something about Fapla Cricket Ground.
Cricket Ground and pitches are the basic necessity of the game. Once Dhangadhi Rangasala was converted to Football stadium for sixth national game, Zonal Police Ground was the new home for Cricket in Dhangadhi. But being under police’s territory the permission to host tournaments did not come easy, and it was small to be a good cricket venue. We needed a new venue for the sport and we selected Fapla. Being used by locals to graze cattle and play football Fapla was in miserable condition-pits all over the ground and it was very dusty. But we started investing ourselves with eyes set on grooming it as an international cricket venue. In a year it Fapla has gone from dusty, pitted land to a green leveled cricket ground. The next step is giving it the shape of a stadium. I hope we can have international matches here after a few years
7. What surprises people is the number of institutions you are involved in- President of Green Clean Dhangadi and DCA, Director of SPA college, and vice-president of Cricket Association of Dhanghadi. How do you find time for all?
Yes, I am involved in several organization but the work the organizations do is not one man’s job. I have been blessed with really awesome people working with me which makes things a lot easier.
8. What have you gained working for growth of the game?
Gratification! Being able to promote cricket in Dhangadhi gives me a lot of satisfaction.
9. Any suggestions for CAN?
Kathmandu (and in recent times a few tournament have been held in Pokhara) is the sole venue for Cricket Tournaments organized by CAN. They need to take the game outside the valley and host tournaments in places like Dhangadhi and Mahendranagar. It will help motivate the cricketers in this region and help cricket grow.
10. You had dreams of playing in the national colors. Well that did not take shape. What’s your dream now?
Like every Nepalese Cricket lover I want to see Nepal play more World Cups and ICC’s flagship events.