Not only did Aamir Akhtar represent Nepal in its very first 1999 Youth World Cup but he also played professionally in the minor leagues of England. He was a left arm opening pace bowler and a useful middle order left hand batsman as well. He also captained the University of Luton cricket team (England) for two years and played British Universities Sports Association (BUSA) leagues regularly.
Apart from his cricketing career, Aamir is also an entrepreneur. When he returned to Nepal, he and his friend brought up a noble idea of starting a ‘good’ and professional cricket academy. We got a chance to talk with him about his ventures as well as his passion for the sport of Cricket.
Tell us about the ventures you are currently involved in?
Currently I am involved fulltime at my company Zohra International which I started few years ago, which by the way is named after my Grand ma.
You are probably one of the first people to vision the future of cricket in Nepal by opening a world class cricket academy? Tell us more about it? What led to it? Passion? Ambition ?
I wish it could be a world class academy as we had envisioned it to be. Unfortunately it has currently shut down due to some internal reasons, but we will come back soon…Inshallah. It started out as an idea with my friends who were also my team colleagues when we were playing for Nepal. We just felt the need of a formal structure for the younger kids as we ourselves never had such facility. Just the idea of the “need” clicked and we opened Shangri-La Cricket Academy. It was pretty simple actually, we were into cricket and opening a cricket academy sort of justhappened.
Where do you really see the cricket scene, or rather sport sector in Nepal after few years time ?
Well Cricket in Nepal is growing like anything. Currently we are ranked 21st in the world which is amazing. I see a great prospect of the Nepal Cricket Team playing the world Cup soon Inshallah.
What are the pros and cons of this nation for its sports development?
We Nepalese are generally sports loving people but somewhere we lack the professionalism in sports. Unfortunately the society and the overall mentality of the people cannot conceive the sports as a career which is sad. I hope this thought process can be transformed.
How do you manage time between ventures and cricket?
When you have a strong enough passion, anything is manageable. Cricket is in my blood and I will always manage it.
Tell us a bit about your background and education?
I was born in Biratnagar and did my schooling in Hamdard Public School – New Delhi. I had a great schooling and for which I am thankful to my parents. Later I studied in Hindu College for one year but then I transfered to University of Bedfordshire in the UK for my under grads. I am very lucky to have had the best of education in India and England.
Why did you chose to be an entrepreneur?
I always wanted to work for myself. I never enjoyed working for someone else. During my University days, I worked for this budget airline called Easyjet in England but I always did it half heartedly only to cover my expenses. Like I said when you want to do something in life with proper ambition then it’s not that difficult. One thing led to another and I worked hard to become an entrepreneur.
Why not settle in the UK ? (Tell us a little about how you got there and for how long and why)
Nepal has always been my first love. I played cricket for the national team and so the sense of patriotism was deep routed in me. I loved my stay in the UK but I knew I would be there only for my education. I had the best time and a fruitful experience studying overseas and playing cricket for English clubs. I also captained my University for two years. I stayed almost four and half years in the UK.
What do you think is the strength of today’s youth? How and what path should they chose to take the nation forward ?
I think the greatest inspiration comes from within. I never believe in idealism. Life gives you so much of opportunities and threats, and you are the best person who can tackle what life throws at you. We must think of new ideas/ ventures by utilizing our strength rather than doing the same old things. Innovation is very important from the youths in Nepal these days.
What is your view on the recent achievements of the Nepalese cricket team?
It’s fantastic. The team is doing extremely well with meager support. The whole team is bonded well with a dashing captain and a thoughtful coach.
Besides business and cricket, what keeps you busy? What is your idea of leisure or alone time?
I enjoy my free time – I love driving around the mountains. I have a small family and I love spending my time with them.
What are your favorite teams and players?
My favorite team has always been and will be Nepal. I don’t have any favorite player as such but if I had to choose, I would say I am a huge admirer of Imran Khan – The living legend of Pakistan. He is a true ambassador for the game in many ways.
Your take on the government’s support towards our sports and sportsmen?
The government needs to make things more conducive for sports to become a profession.. I strongly believe that School / college/ University should open the opportunity for sports scholarships in order to encourage those passionate in sports to make a career out of it while having a good education as well.
Because of the lack of proper financial benefits, parents hesitate to encourage their children to become a sports professional in Nepal, what are your views on this?
It’s true – and you can’t blame the parents. This would be a gradual process of change. It will take time and it will hopefully happen.
What is your message to the youngsters who want to get into sports professionally?
Sports can change one’s life. So opt for it only if you think you have the passion and talent.
And what is your message to the young aspiring entrepreneurs?
Go for it, sometime you have to judge when it is worth taking the risk. Remember to take every aspect into account before putting all your eggs in one basket.