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UJJWAL ACHARYA: EYE ON NEPAL

Krishna Prasad Acharya, 30, commonly known as 'Ujjwal', is Nepal's leading cricket correspondent. He is to be found in print, online, on television, on radio practically on a daily basis. He pioneered online cricket coverage in Nepal in 2001 and since then has kept Nepal's legion of fans inside and outside the country in touch with "the most popular sport in the country." His insightful, diligent, fair-mindedness coupled with his tireless enthusiasm has made him the go-to-person for informed, enlightened commentary on cricket in Nepal. He spoke to us in Kathmandu.

"The whole country is crazy for cricket. Even in the mountains they play the game."

Why do you like cricket so much more than other sports?

“Maybe because it is the only sport I can play well. I was never good at football and whenever I played with CAN in a Journalists v Association match they have never gotten me out other than just run out. We play with the former national players. Cricket was introduced to me when I was a little child. My school had volunteers from Oxford and Cambridge University and when I was in Class VII, it was the first time I saw a cricket bat and learnt how to play. We played in the school ground from then on. When we played there was a slight confusion because ‘our rule’ stated that a batsman could be run out at either end irrespective of which end he was running to. This ‘rule’ was changed only nine months later when another volunteer came over and told us that we were wrong. It was a lot of fun back then.”

How long have you been a journalist?

“I have been a journalist for the past 12 years. I began training when I was still a student of journalism.”

What made you become a writer?

“There were a few things. In Nepal, when you get good marks for the school exams, you generally try becoming a doctor or an engineer. I was actually amongst the top 50 students in Nepal after finishing school and everyone asked me to sign up for engineering. I just felt I wasn’t going to be comfortable doing it though so I chose journalism since this was an area where I could really express myself. I’ve always loved to write and ever since I was a child I used to write poems and stories and considered myself a creative writer. I chose to be a journalist because if I write, then people would read my work.”

Updating scores from Tribhuvan University Ground every over on the net, during the 2009 ACC U-17 Elite Cup Final

Bearing in mind the recent threats that political journalists have received in Nepal, do you face any problems?

“As a sports journalist I don’t think it is very difficult but I have been taken into police custody for a day. I had participated in a rally when the king was ruling and I was imprisoned for a whole day. I was very worried after being arrested for a day along with other journalists. No one knew I was the one who was writing for the blog. On the blog we didn’t criticize the king all the time, we just report what happens; rallies about democracy amongst other things. At least we are doing our bit by giving out information. Generally Kathmandu is quite safe unless you partake in rallies but outside Kathmandu it is very different because you receive many threats. As a sports journalist it has never happened to me but my family lives here and they ask me why I can’t just stop being a journalist. So you can imagine the situation.”

8000 came to watch Nepal in the 2009 ACC U-17 Elite Cup Final in Kathmandu

As a journalist, were you always involved in sport?

“I wasn’t a sports journalist in the beginning. I’ve been a journalist, at the night desk of the Kathmandu Post, I’ve looked after the opinions page and done translations as well. With this cricket site, I have always been involved. Even if I work for a different sector, I was always reporting for my site since 2001 when I established the site. (It’s first page was http://web.archive.org/web/20010927115511/http://cricket.com.np/. It’s most recent version is http://www.nepalcricket.com.)

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