Lalit Bhandari’s case raises insurance policy issues in Nepal cricket

In his first article as Emerging Cricket's Nepal Correspondent, Dipesh Pandit explores how the cases of Kundan Singh and Lalit Bhandari highlight a gap in player welfare policies for Nepal's elite cricketers

Lalit Singh Bhandari

On the evening of September 13th, unexpected news broke out from the far-western side of Nepal. Lalit Singh Bhandari, the left-arm medium-pacer who debuted for Nepal in 2018 in the Netherlands, and a regular cricketer in the Nepali domestic circuit met a serious motorbike accident in Mahendranagar. This news did not just come out as a shock, but the photo that had been passed on social media scared thousands of Nepalese cricket fans even more. Bhandari was reportedly rushed to Nisarg Hospital in Dhangadi but due to the limitations at the facility, he was taken to Kohalpur Medical College in Banke District for further treatment. As the news went viral in the social media by ten in the night, thousands of fans wished for his speedy recovery. And some responsible fans, using their social media, instantly demanded the authorities take Bhandari to Kathmandu, the nation’s capital, for proper treatment. The next day, Bhandari was taken to Kathmandu on a chartered helicopter and was admitted to one of the finest hospitals in Kathmandu. 

What gained everyone’s attention after his hospital admission was a press release from Cricket Players Association Nepal (CPAN). Former-captain Paras Khadka, also the General Secretary of CPAN, appealed donations from well-wishers on behalf of CPAN that would help Bhandari fight in his battle. 

It is no surprise that players are not under insurance policies to cover such large medical bills. Also, the income source of most of the national players has severely been hit as the nation went through a long, 6 months lockdown amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The professional cricket leagues which became the primary sources of cricketer’s income have halted. 

The concept of crowdfunding is not new in the Nepali cricket circuit. The fans have always stepped up to overwhelming support in such important issues. Kundan Singh, an opening batsman of Province-2 in national tournaments is another case. Both of Singh’s kidneys are damaged, he has been under medical observance and has to undergo regular dialysis. Not being financially strong, he has not been able to undergo kidney transplantation and is in a state of life and death. The case of Lalit Singh Bhandari and Kundan Singh is different, but what coincides is the lack of health insurance and crowdfunding campaigns by fans to support their treatments. Although younger generations have slowly started pursuing cricket as their professional career, they are also hit by different insecurities time and again. Nepal, where semi-professional sports activities take place, the player’s insurance program is kept very secondary.

“CAN is fully committed to coordinate and support Lalit in such hard times”, the president of the Cricket Association of Nepal said earlier. Although the CAN is showing its assistance in Bhandari’s case, the fans and stakeholders have been asking for a concrete decision on building a proper system. As a result of which, Nepali social media saw #InsurePlayers trending in their location on Wednesday and Thursday last week. 

The fans have once again started crowdfunding campaigns for Lalit Singh Bhandari on behalf of CPAN, but this time, they are also raising their voice against sports administrations for proper insurance policies that would somehow aid cricketers’ families in the times of difficulty.

The Cricket Association of Nepal is preparing for their board meeting this week. Hopefully, they will come up with some better decisions for the betterment of national cricketers. 

Emerging Cricket wishes Lalit Singh Bhandari a speedy recovery.

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