April 2015 will remain a mark on Nepal’s history. One of the strongest earthquakes to ever take place in the country killed over 9,000 people, and it continues to affect millions. The Gurkha Crew baseball club was founded just two months after the quake.
“When Nepal was struck by the earthquake we thought the game of baseball would be a good means for giving children something else to think about,” founder and current General Secretary of the Gurkha Crew, Dinesh Bajagain, says. “At such difficult times, we all need positive things that bring joy to our lives.”
Gurkha Crew is the first registered baseball club in Nepal. It is a non-profit social club established by baseball enthusiasts. The sole aim of the club is to encourage, involve and bring together Nepalese youth. The focus of the program is to promote youth sport participation and healthy development. “Baseball gives them something beneficial to do, compared with picking up bad habits like smoking and drugs,” says Bajagain. “It gives these kids a chance to play together with each other, regardless of age, race or family background. Anyone who wants to play is welcome to join us.”
Baseball is not a big sport in Nepal. Football and cricket are way more popular. Especially cricket, which has increased in popularity thanks to strong performances by the national team. “In our country most youngsters know baseball. We have seen the game in movies and follow it on social media. Naturally the older generation is more familiar with cricket and football,” Bajagain says.
The Gurkha Crew is not the only baseball club in Nepal. There are baseball teams in Pokhara and Bhaktapur. Unlike them, the Kathmandu-based Gurkha Crew is not affiliated with a school. “We have about 20 members, 10-14 years of age. They gather daily at the Patan Multiple Campus to practice pitching and batting under the supervision of coaches.’’
Despite lack of funds, playing fields, coaches and equipment, Bajagain is hopeful. “The circumstances are very difficult in our country but I believe that we can make baseball much more popular. Maybe some day we will see Nepalese players on the world stage of baseball.”