Among the many sports activities that take place at the City of Knowledge campus throughout the year, there is one that stands out for how uncommon it is in this region of the world. We refer to cricket. Cricket is a sport originally from England and massively practiced in India, but although these two countries are very far from here, in Panama there are 2 cricket leagues that are played on the CdS campus, thanks to Manish Ramanbhai Bhakta, resident of Panama for more than 24 years.

Manish owns a pawn house, a hotel, a workshop, a restaurant and real estate, but in addition to all this, he has been also organizing two cricket leagues at the City of Knowledge for more than 12 years. The national and the international league.

In the national league, we have teams mainly from Veraguas, Colon and Panama City, but “if there is anyone interested in participating in the league, who resides in another province, he can join the team from Veraguas or Colon,” said Manish. This league is composed today by 24 teams represented by 12 players each. That is, only in the national cricket league, more than 288 people play who come accompanied by their families, making this activity a highly anticipated family event every year. The national league takes place during the summer, between January and April because the implements that are used, such as the bat (wood) or the ball, which is made of leather, are expensive and cannot get wet. Manish tells us that the national league is open to all public and you do not have to be from India to play in it. “Here some American (US), Canadian or Australian plays as well. You just have to sign up in the league and that’s it. Something basic is charged for renting the pitch that varies according to the participation”. The national league mixes players from all levels competing to be the best team. Winning a game represents 2 points and they are added during each day until reaching the final phase, where the four best teams of the tournament participate. The two best play the grand final.

Manish also organizes the international league, which takes place every four years, lasts from 4 to 5 days, and where teams from England, United States or India participate, along with teams made up of the best players in the national league. “This year, at the international tournament final, the two pitches were filled,” said Manish. The international tournament is also played in other venues in different cities of the United States, such as: Los Angeles, Houston, Minnesota or Dallas, where other Hindus organize tournaments as well. “Things get more serious there, and teams are much more competitive. That’s why, if you want to play with me you better come to the national league,” says Manish smiling.

In Panama there is an estimated community of 3,000 Hindus who do not find it difficult to communicate when playing, even if they come from different regions where they don’t speak the same language. This is thanks to the fact that they communicate through Gujarati, the language of Manish (Guyarat) and Hindi (official language of India), established as the official languages ​​of cricket in Panama.

It has been more than a decade since Manish rented the first cricket pitch at the City of Knowledge (former US military base) to perform this unusual sports activity in Panama. Activity in which a trophy and the great satisfaction of being the champion are the only prizes. An activity where Hindus, Panamanians and foreigners living in Panama enjoy in family and keep their culture alive.

“At the beginning only eight teams participated, but each year it has been increasing, children are growing and they want to play too and at the same time we preserve our culture. Just as you carry baseball in your blood, we carry cricket,” concluded Manish.

If you are interested in participating in the cricket league, you can contact: Manish Ramanbhai Bhakta at 6677-8855.

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