He is a living legend of Nepal’s Cricket scene. He had his humble beginnings at the age of 15 at Baluwatar’s then prestigious Cricket academy. Today Paras Khadka is trying to provide a solid platform for the younger generation at the very same place where he got his first break. But as of now, it’s being revamped with a new name and concept and is known as Pulsar Cricket Excellence Academy. He may have retired from the cricketing scene at a very young age but is still working to improve the sporting culture in Nepal for the next generation.

What’s new with Paras Khadka that you want to share with our readers?
Firstly I would like to share that I am giving an interview after quite a long time. So, now giving one has pulled me right back to the way it used to be. So, what’s new is that I’ve started a Cricket Academy i.e Pulsar Cricket Excellence Centre at Baluwatar. This is basically the post-retirement project that I am really excited about and looking forward to because as a cricketer I have gone through all the hurdles and gathered experiences from those hurdles. Now, establishing a cricket academy to provide a platform and opportunity for the young generation is very exciting and challenging at the same time.

Could you tell us more about Pulsar Cricket Excellence Centre?
Basically Pulsar Cricket Excellence Centre is a platform for those young talents who are waiting to seize the opportunity to train with the finest coaches to develop and hone their skills even further. This academy was established under the partnership of five people: Gyanendra Malla (former national cricket player), Chhumbi Lama (Member of Cricket Association Nepal), Prafulla Vaidya (Former national cricketer and Senior Pilot of Shree Airlines), Nagendra Bhattarai (Senior Pilot of Nepal Airlines) and myself. This was founded on the previous foundation of Baluwatar’s Cricket Academy where we have revamped the center with a new name and new concept. We have organized various programs in recent months such as the Pokhara Premier League, the women’s Champion League (which is the 1st women’s league franchise in all of South Asia), and also involved with school-level cricket tournaments like Baliyo Nepal Cup. The basic idea of Pulsar Cricket Excellence Centre is that we want to take it all over Nepal in the next 3 to 5 years.

What are your visions and goals for establishing this training center?
To just create a platform/ opportunity for any young cricketer. We also don’t want any untapped potential or talent to go unnoticed. So, basically, the idea here is talent identification. If there’s a potentially talented player then we will groom him/her in every possible way that we can and create opportunities for them. And for that, we have also launched scholarship programs and hostel facilities here in the academy. We have national and international cricketers who come and train with us just to provide that necessary quality training.

What instigated the idea or desire to start your very own cricket academy?
The idea was there in my mind from the very beginning, but only because of various circumstances I couldn’t act upon it. During 2009, when I became the captain of Nepal’s cricket team, the very first thing they asked me was, “What do I want to do?” and one thing that I have always said in response was lead by example. So, for the sole reason to lead by example as well, I acted upon it rather than just saying it. Even just to bring a small change for the betterment of young talents. There were also other moments that instigated this thought. I remember the moment when I had reached a point where I couldn’t go and practice anymore. At that time I thought I need to take another step in the field of cricket and cricket management is one thing that I’ve always been interested in. And establishing this academy has given me all the opportunity to fulfill what I had planned all those years ago.

What is your view regarding people’s opinion that this academy is guaranteed to produce promising young talents because of your name?
Most people think that just because someone is training in an academy opened by me or Gyanendra Malla that the output will be world-class players which is a very naive way of thinking. I personally think that I will probably be able to answer this question five years down the line. Only at that time will I be able to say what I have planned. But at the moment we have just started our journey and it will take a lot of time before we get any results. Although with the decades of experience and knowledge that I will be sharing with my students in this field, it will ultimately depend upon their talents and skills. We are just acting as a bridge for those talents to cross over and grab the opportunity that they create for themselves. 

Can anyone join your training center or are there any specific criteria they need to meet?
No, anyone can join. We have doctors, engineers, and people who work in the hospitality industry as well here. As long as they are seven years of age and above, they can start their training here after completing all the necessary registration processes. After which you will be put in a program. So, no qualification is required. It is for everyone and anyone who want to enjoy and cherish this sport.

What is the time schedule at the academy for students to train?
So, we are running the program at the academy from seven in the morning to seven in the evening. The entirety of 12hr is divided into 5 different shifts. At the moment this is how we are running the academy.

When is the formal inauguration of the academy going to be held?
Well, we are thinking of bringing a famous international cricketer to do us the honor of inaugurating the academy. So, for now, I'm not sure when this will happen but we are in talks with a few personalities but nothing concrete. Until and unless the personality who is going to come becomes available nothing can be said.

What is the time schedule at the academy for students to train?
So, we are running the program at the academy from seven in the morning to seven in the evening. The entirety of 12hr is divided into 5 different shifts. At the moment this is how we are running the academy.

What makes this training center more appealing than other training centers for students?
Firstly, let's address the elephant in room i.e it's our name itself. But once people come here it's up to them to decide. Apart from that our first and foremost priority is to take care of them. We try to grasp their understanding of the sport and how well they have been coached before or do they require more coaching and also if they are happy with the coaches themselves. We take every little thing into consideration. And I think it’s our Indoor pitch that is what appeals to so many of the students here. As it is the best indoor pitch in Nepal, period. We brought the matt from India especially as it is a special matt that you can find nowhere else at the moment in Nepal. This is a basic facility that can be obtained easily but due to our poor sporting background and thinking even at the top level, no one is thinking about it. So, consideration for basic things also could be an appealing or unique factor for our training center.

Currently how many students have been admitted here?
When we first opened our admission, we got more than 800 applications for admission which was a positive sign for us. But as we have just started and have space constraints we could only take in admission for 250 students. But we are planning to expand and hope to enroll 300 students for this season which is maximum capacity at the moment.

What infrastructures and facilities have you installed at the academy that can provide an edge in producing young talents?
We have one of the best balling machines in the world from Bola and the best indoor pitch that we have made available for our students. We are also planning to make the best pitch in Nepal. As it takes time to build a perfect pitch because of the many scientific processes that go into it. Besides that, we are tying up with various sporting companies to provide the facility for buying the finest cricket accessories inside the academy itself. We have also planned to take our kids abroad and invite teams from foreign countries to play against our team.  

Did you face any hurdles while trying to establish this academy?
Massive is what I can only say about the hurdles that I faced. For me, the last 6 to 8 months have been incredible. I got the chance to experience different roles and work while on this journey. From having to make preparations for building the walls of the compound to putting up the nets and having to order various necessary equipment required for the building process. It’s been a massive challenge even for myself. I basically had to do most of the things. It’s been quite a journey and hopefully, I’ll be able to share the before and after pictures/videos. It was a challenge that was very exciting personally.

In your opinion how can more women be encouraged to take up cricket?
Firstly, we need to introduce the sport to them. Introducing sports to them will probably start in schools and colleges. We have had conversations with schools and colleges and are tying up with them to train the students during the weekends. In this way slowly but steadily we can bring about a change in the desire and lifestyle of students. And most importantly we are trying to also emphasize the theoretical side of the game as well as most people don’t understand the process that goes into it. We want to teach cricket to people.

Is the scouting process being done by Pulsar Cricket Excellence Centre?
The plan is there but we haven’t started yet because we have just started our journey. It’s been just 3-4 months. Hopefully, we will be conducting talent hunt programs in the coming months.  

Finally, what message would you like to give to those people who want to learn and be the best at cricket but don’t know where to start?
It’s very important to start early in any sports that you want to be good at. Nothing is as important as time itself and gaining those extra few years of practice, hard work and experience can help you get very far in your career. I am somebody who is very clear and I believe it to be my strong point. Having clarity on your decisions and judgments is another important thing to work on. With clarity, one should also be consistent with what one does. You shouldn’t give up if something doesn’t work out immediately. One needs to have the utmost patience and work hard consistently. And lastly, one needs to develop a sporting culture in their life. Without it, one cannot go very far in whatever one does.