Kathmandu, Jan 19 (RSS):President Bidya Devi Bhandari inaugurated the first cricket festival organised by the Madan Bhandari Sports Academy, Department of Cricket amidst a ceremony here today. The Head-of-the-State handed a cricket bat and a ball to Nepali national cricket team captain Paras Khadka to as a symbol of the opening of the festival. On the first day of festival kicked off at the Tribhuvan University (TU) cricket ground, an exhibition match was held. There was also special musical presentation by national artists. The two-day festival has showcased various stalls relating to cricket equipments. Also speaking on the occasion, Minister for Youth and Sports, Rajan Kumar KC, said the sports would help produce healthy citizens. The government has given special attention to the development and promotion of sports sector despite limited resources and infrastructure construction is going on in full swing in view of the upcoming South Asian Games (SAG) to be held in Nepal, according to him. Likewise, CPN (Maoist Center) leader Janardan Sharma said the development of sports was yet to fall under the State's priority despite abundant potentiality for so, insisting on the need of attaching a special priority to the promotion of sports sector. "Athletes are those people who take the nation's identity to a new height and the political leadership should learn discipline from them." UML office secretary Krishna Gopal Shrestha stressed the need for the sports to play a crucial role for the holistic development of the State and its citizens. The festival aims to contribute to building disciplined and prosperous society through sports, said the Academy Chairperson Binod Shrestha. On the first day, under the 'exhibition match', national athletes, political party leaders, journalists and artists took part in the match, while around 500 athletes from various schools and colleges contested under the 'talent hunt'. The top 10 winners will be trained in cricket, and cricket equipments be handed out. On the second day, a seminar on the theme of 'opportunities and challenges of cricket' will be organised alongside musical performances. On the occasion, captain of the national cricket team Paras Khadka has been honoured with the 'Madan Bhandari Cricket Award'. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 25,000. Likewise, cricket player Sunil Bhandari was also honoured.