Politicians, artistes draw huge crowd for charity

At a time when lack of political consensus is jeopardising the making of the constitution, political leaders formed a team to achieve a common goal — save the life of a player.

It was a rare scene, yet very funny and entertaining. Unified CPN Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, Nepali Congress parliamentary Party leader Ram Chandra Paudel, CPN-UML president Jhala Nath Khanal, CA members Barsha Man Pun ‘Ananta’ and Gagan Thapa and other political figures teamed up as the CA Member-XI to play a charity football match at the Dasharath Stadium today. They were up against Comedian-XI comprising popular TV artistes Deepak Raj Giri, Kiran KC, Shiva Hari Poudel, Deepa Shree Niraula and Jitu Nepal.

The common goal of the teams was to raise funds for the treatment of the former national volleyball player Dinesh Baniya, who is fighting for life after being diagnosed with failed kidneys. Baniya was the member of the Nepali squad that participated in the sixth and seventh South Asian Federation (SAF) Games in 1991 and 1993.

Surprisingly, it was probably the first time that such a game had drawn a huge crowd. Spectators were enjoying every moment. A weak shot from Prachanda was greeted with a loud cheer as was a miscued shot from Khanal. Even an attempted shot that hit Paudel’s knee entertained the crowd. Veteran leaders’ attempts to reach the ball with their protruding bellies drew huge applause.

Either unaware of the simplest of the football rules or the jersey numbers they had donned, the CA members had to be reminded they were substituted. Referee had to reach the players to remind that she/he was substituted.

While Paudel stayed in the field for about five minutes, Prachanda and Khanal survived for about 12 minutes before being substituted. “After so many years, I could see the sense of unity,” said Prachanda, while Khanal was focused on winning the match. “We will win the match,” said Khanal. Meanwhile, Ananta drew a loud cheer from the crowd when he said they would try to reach the football consensus.
Comedian-XI won 4-1 with Kumar Kattel and Manaraj Shrestha scoring a brace each. Gagan Thapa replied for CA Members-XI.

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