Evergreen Weather: ‘Age is just a number’

14 Chait, Kathmandu. For how many years can an athlete maintain an active sporting life? The answer is not simple. But the older you get, the more difficult it becomes to stay physically fit. This is the reason why many players retire after reaching the age of 32/34 while playing at the top level.

Nepali cricketer Ritu Kanojia is an exception, who is not only playing at the age of 41, but is also contributing significantly to the team’s victory.

Playing in the Mayor’s Cup Women’s Championship for the Far West Province team, she has proved that age is just arithmetic if she is physically and mentally strong.

In world sports, there is no shortage of emerging athletes in sports among the dwindling age groups. Kay Green of England made his One Day International debut for England at the age of 45 years and 292 days. India’s Mithali Raj is actively playing cricket at the age of 40. But in Nepal, where non-professional sporting activities take place, a player’s continued commitment is remarkable.

After spending almost 12 years in the national team, Ritu is still playing cricket at the highest level. Ritu is showing ‘winning game’ for the team in both bowling and batting. His fitness is no less than that of a young player.

How long will you play? To those who question him, he simply replies, ‘I play as long as I can. And someone new had to follow me!’

Debut at the age of 25

Ritu joining the national team is also interesting. Born in the year 2039 in Baitadi of Far West province, which is considered to be the hub of cricket, she used to play cricket with her brothers in the ground near the house from the age of 8/9. Along with cricket, she also played volleyball and badminton at the school level. Won regional competition.

And, at the age of 25, she joined the national team. The Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) organized a qualifying tournament across the country for the first time in 2007 (year 2064), forming the women’s national team. A qualifying competition was held between four district teams from Dadeldhura, Darchula, Baitri and Kanchanpur in Far West. It rained in the final match of the tournament. And, two teams came to Kathmandu for regional selection. Bowling all-rounder Ritu also came to Kathmandu and at the age of 25 was selected for the historic national team.

After leaving home and living in Kathmandu after joining the national team, he had to listen to many questions. Father Tekendra Lal is a former police officer. He knew a lot about the game. That’s why his family and relatives supported him in his journey to become a cricketer. “The neighbors used to talk about wasting time playing cricket when they were at home and taking care of the kids,” Ritu recalled.

Ritu answered this through games. She played regularly for the national team from 2064 to 2076 and also captained Nepal in one match.

In the 2009 ACC Women’s T20 Championship against Singapore, she became the captain for the first time after regular captain Neera Rajopadhyay was unavailable. ‘When I started playing in the national team, the name of the province, district and village started coming. Those who asked me why I played fell silent’, she said.

playing cricket, teaching

After crossing four decades of age, there is nothing in Ritu’s life except cricket. She is always busy with cricket. She has played at various places in India when there was a tournament in Nepal.

“We are not dependent on matches in Nepal, I go to India and play tournaments,” she said. The whole management is good.

After playing for the departmental team APF for almost a decade, Ritu, who played a key role in winning every possible title in domestic cricket, has returned to her home ground after three years.

She said that on the request of Cricket Association President Chatur Bahadur Chand, she has returned with the aim of strengthening the state team. By giving the captaincy of Sudurpaschim Prant team to young player Bindu Rawal, he is focusing on his performance. She says, ‘When you are the captain, all the responsibilities of the team fall on you, now I just focus on my game.’

As a senior on the team, she has not forgotten her responsibility to support and teach her sisters.

He has one more responsibility in Baitri. Ritu trains under-16 and under-19 female and male players. “Dhirendra Chand is like a brother, learning a lot from him, I will teach the next generation”, he said, adding that he taught cricket to his younger siblings even during the Corona pandemic.

Baitadi will be working as district level coach from 1st Baisakh. Despite the paucity of money, Ritu, who is playing cricket with her father and her own willpower, is also ready to take this responsibility to improve the condition of the house. If I get the responsibility, I will be able to show my love for cricket. The financial condition of my household will also improve a bit’, she said.

Ritu, who lost her mother at a young age, now has only her father and herself at home. Sister and sister got married. I had to lose my brother due to Corona infection. Now all the responsibility of the house is on his shoulders. Still single, she says, ‘He supported me when I needed it, now I have to do it.’

Desire to retire wearing national team jersey

It has been 15 years since he actively played cricket, which he followed since the age of 10. It is his experience that diet and exercise are most important to stay fit even at this age.

She wakes up early in the morning and runs for fitness. She pays equal attention to diet. Regular exercise has made you physically fit and experience has made you mentally fit. Ritu now wants to live the life of a player for at most one year.

And, telling of plans to end an active sporting life, she recalls the moment she donned the Nepal jersey for the first time. It’s been a while since he started dreaming of retirement in front of his home fans to make his long career one to remember. “I want to retire with the same enthusiasm and wearing the national team jersey,” said Ritu, who is preparing to make a formal proposal to the cricket association.

Even at the time of taking the decision to retire, he has not found any player to replace him in his province. This is also a big problem for women’s cricket in Nepal. Ritu has decided to stay in the district and spend the rest of her life grooming new players. She has done a level one training course and told about her plan, ‘I have given so many years to cricket as a player, now I will help women’s cricket in a new role.’

Photo/Video: Shankar Giri/Online News

श्रोत : अनलाइनखबर

Himal Sanchar