'We are motivated', say Nepali athletes after receiving assured cash prizes

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By A Staff Reporter,Kathmandu, June 17: Nepali athletes who won medals at the 19th Asian Games and 4th Asian Para Games in 2022 alongside the Nepali men's cricket squad who booked a place in the ongoing T20 World Cup by defeating the UAE in November 2023 have finally received the cash prizes announced by the government.

While the cash prizes were transferred to the bank accounts of the athletes, coaches and managerial officials, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, on Sunday, organised a programme in Kathmandu to honour the athletes for their contributions to the sector. According to the Ministry, Rs. 29.71 million in cash was distributed to the athletes as per the prevailing laws and guidelines.

Karate player Erika Gurung, who won a silver medal at the 19th Asian Games; para taekwondo player Palesha Goverdhan, first para-athlete of Nepal to win a medal at Asian Para Games; Nepali women kabaddi team, who won a silver medal at the 19th Asian Games; and Nepali men cricket team, who helped the country qualify for the T20 World Cup, were awarded. 

Minister for Youth and Sports Biraj Bhakta Shrestha, Secretary at the Ministry Suman Raj Aryal and National Sports Council member-secretary Tanka Lal Ghising feted the athletes and officials with a certificate of recognition.  "This money might not be enough to cover the investments and sacrifices you [athletes] made for the country. However, we request the athletes and officials to accept this small token of gratitude from the government, said Secretary Aryal."

Cash prizes

Erika Gurung was awarded with a cash prize of Rs. 1,950,000 for winning the silver medal in karate in the 2022 Asian Games. Alongside Gurung, her coach Kushal Shrestha was awarded with Rs. 234,000 and two assistant coaches with Rs. 78,000 each. The team's manager Niwas Gopal Baidhya also received Rs. 195,000.

Similarly, Palesha Goverdhan received Rs. 1.3 million for her achievement in the 4th Para Asian Games. Kabiraj Negi Lama, who coached Palesha voluntarily, was feted with Rs. 260,000 in cash. 

The 12 kabaddi players who played in the squad that won a silver medal in the 2022 Asian Games were provided with Rs. 390,000 each. Likewise, chief coach Parbati Rai received Rs. 260,000; and vice-coach Bishnu Dutta Bhatta and team manager Ram Kafle with Rs. 130,000 each.

Meanwhile, Nepali men's cricket team and officials received Rs. 20.475 million for reaching the T20 World Cup for the second time. While the players were provided with Rs. 1.3 million each; the physiotherapist and team's manager Suman Raj Karki also received cash awards.

Players motivated

"I did not have an answer when people questioned if I could earn anything out of the sport. Now, I have an answer. We can earn respect as well as money from the sports if the government continues to support athletes," said Erika, who added, "I am truly grateful to be Nepal ko cheli (daughter of Nepal)."

Likewise, Palesha informed that the award was an inspiration not only for her but a whole new generation of aspiring athletes in the country. "The award as inspired me a lot and it will ignite enthusiasm in the new generations. I will make the country proud once again in the 2024 Summer Paralympics in Paris," said Palesha. While Palesha received a wild card entry to the 2020 Summer Paralympics, she earned her spot for 2024 after competing in the qualifiers. 

Likewise, Nepali women's kabaddi team vice-captain Anuja Kulung Rai informed that the team was dreaming bigger now. "We have had a chance to play more games nowadays. We are improving. This award is a motivation for us. We will continue to give our best," said Rai.

After the award ceremony, Minister Biraj Bhakta Shrestha made public a list of activities that were performed during his 100 days at the office. According to Minister Shrestha, the allocation of the assured cash prizes to the athletes was one of the major successes and it was proven by the thanks and gratitude expressed by the athletes.


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