Interview with Rubina Chhetri – Captain of Nepal Women’s Cricket Team

Interview with Rubina Chhetri - Captain of Nepal Women's Cricket Team

1. What drove you to cricket? Walk us through your initial cricket days?
There was a ground near to my home where my brother and other village boys used to play. I just stayed in the home and used to watch them play. I don’t know why I did that, but I enjoyed watching them play. One day my brother asked me to join them.

I went to play and was often given to bowl, but hardly to bat. So, it was all because of my brother that I started playing cricket. Initially, it was difficult since I was the only girl there practicing with boys. Our community people complained to my mother to not to let me practice with boys. But I was blessed with a great family who never stopped me. 

2. Who were your cricket role model / inspiration whilst growing up?
Rahul Dravid from India and Brett Lee from Australia were my role model while growing up. 

3. Back then how did you cope up with your studies / education / other commitments along with cricket? Was it hard to convince your parents about choosing this profession?
It was hard to manage cricket alongside education and other commitments. I lost my 3 years to education which I could have given to cricket. But, as I said I am blessed with a very good family who always respected my decision and inspired me. Therefore it was not hard to convince my parents. 
4. What made you take Cricket as a profession? Is cricket a sustainable profession in Nepal or there’s something else players do for living?
It was my sheer dedication and love for the sports. I used to watch live matches, world cups tournaments on TV in the middle of night. That time, I didn’t even know that women’s cricket exist. 

Women’s Cricket in Nepal is still not a sustainable profession because it’s been only 9 years and we do not have our fixed monthly salaries, no sponsors, no proper job security. So the players after finishing the tournament has to work in banks or in cricket academies or somewhere else for their living. Even the national team players have to earn their living by choosing different profession. 
5. When and how did you come to know about your selection in the national team? Could you recall the moment and describe it in words?
I remember, we had gone to play National Selection game in Kathmandu. One team called Nepalgunj was the best among all the teams. There were 8 girls who had already played for Nepal team. I was just 15 years old then. So with this team, I took 6 wickets in 4 overs conceding only 9 runs. With this performance, I got selected in the national team for the first time. The best day of my life. 
6. What was the general perception about women’s cricket in Nepal when you took it as a profession? How has it evolved over the years?
The perception about women’s cricket was quite good when I took it as a profession because team Nepal was giving good results consistently. The current state is a little depressing due to lack of practice matches, resulting in poor performance of the team. When women’s cricket was new, we could easily beat other teams. But now other countries are investing a lot in their female cricket team, providing better infrastructure and lots match practices.
Interview with Rubina Chhetri - Captain of Nepal Women's Cricket Team
As compared to them, we only get one month of camp (10 to 15 days sometimes) just before the tournament. So how can we compete with them? Not a single domestic tournament in a calendar year. Though we have talents, but because of lack of proper job security and facilities for us, we are struggling everyday.
7. Just 23, you’re a captain and have been in exceptional form with your bowling. What do you feel is an area to work and improve on at a personal level?
I need to improve on my pace and little bit on yorker deliveries as it is the best line to get wickets. I am focusing on bowling yorker and good length areas. 
8. How was it like being an Associate Rookie for Melbourne Renegades in 2016? What all were the key learning from the tournament?
It was indeed an amazing journey and such an honor with learning opportunities from the best players around the world. Being with them and practicing with these players was like a dream come true for me.  I learnt how to handle the pressure in crucial situations of match. I observed every single thing they did on the field and tried to implement them when I practice. It is the best learning experience one can ever get. Special thanks to ICC, Nepal Cricket Association, Cricket Australia and Melbourne Renegades for providing me this great opportunity. 
9. You are the only Nepalese cricketer (male or female) to take a hat-trick in ICC match at the tender age of 16? Your thoughts on this amazing achievement?
It was a great moment for me since it was my debut match. So it really meant a lot to me. I want to dedicate this achievement to my mother who had worked hard as much as I did. She is my inspiration. 
Interview with Rubina Chhetri - Captain of Nepal Women's Cricket Team
10. The very famous match of 2009 ACC Women’s T20 tournament against Singapore, where you took 5 wickets in 5 balls (including first hat-trick) and turned things completely in Nepal’s favor. What was the feeling then? Was this the turning point of your cricket career?
Yes of course the feeling is still pure in my heart. My country was almost on the verge of losing the match and nobody would have thought that we would still win the match. My spell (5 Wickets in 6 Balls) took my country to the victory line. Indeed a proud moment for me. It was a turning moment of my cricket career as well.
11. Tell us more about the current coaching staff, support staff and team administrators for Nepal women’s cricket?
The coaching & support staff is brilliant at the moment. But sadly the administration needs a lot of work. We request their attention and focus on ladies cricket team in Nepal.
12. Throw some light on the current domestic structure in Nepal? Highlight some of the tours/tournaments that have helped churn out quality female cricket players?
There’s hardly any domestic tournament for female cricketers in Nepal. But the sports council and club members have organized game for us this year through which we have got many new talents for upcoming matches.  The upcoming world cup qualifying match in Hong Kong has also given us lot of talented match-winners when we stood 2nd in the tournament. 
13. ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 was a great platform to raise the profile of women’s cricket across the World. Is there any tournament in Nepal designed especially for female cricketers?  
No. Currently, we lack tournaments especially designed for female cricketers in Nepal. 
14. A moment that you feel was the turning point for women’s cricket in Nepal?
The tournament played this year in which we stood 2nd in Hong Kong is what I feel is the turning point for ladies cricket in Nepal. 
15. What is the biggest challenge still prevalent in the Nepal women’s cricket circuit? Highlight the steps taken to mitigate these challenges.
There are many. Some of these challenges are the lack of domestic match structure, poor facilities for girls, no fixed salary, no proper job security. Sports ministry & the sports council do not focus much on our ladies team. This partial nature towards women’s cricket is destroying the quality of women’s game and is surely a point of concern. 
Some of the steps needed to mitigate the problem are: focus on domestic structure, have inter-school tournament, talent hunt programs, provide lots of match practices. Allowing us to have a tough competition and then we can pull put the best 14 players. The administration should provide jobs to team players so that cricket can be their professional job and not a part time thing. 
16. Tell us about the cricket academy started by you and your brother in Jhapa. How many such cricket academies do we have in Nepal right now? 
We have many academies in Nepal right now. We are not dependent on the management and with the help from other sources, we have built academies to keep women’s cricket alive. We provide cricketers with training and prepare them for future tournaments. We see future of Nepal Cricket in these academies. It’s been 2 years to our academy stared by me and my brother with the motto of keeping cricket alive and preparing future cricketers for Nepal.  
17. How was it meeting Harmanpreet Kaur in ACC Women’s Asia Cup last year? Did you have any conversation with her?
It was my dream come true to see my idol, my inspiration, my god – Harmanpreet Kaur! I have been following her game since 2012. She is amazing. I love to see her game and I continue to watch her batting videos. It was my bad luck that I didn’t get much time to converse with her, but it was my pleasure and dream come true to see her playing in front of me. Her great batting display in the world cup has inspired me to work hard for the upcoming world cup qualifying match.

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Interview with Rubina Chhetri - Captain of Nepal Women's Cricket Team

18. Walk us through the upcoming World Cup qualifying tournament. How’s the preparation? Where do you see your team in the tournament?
It is sad to see no news about the camps and training fixtures from the management. But our girls do not want to give up easily. We are practicing hard as much as we can in our home town and are not waiting for the management to call us for camps. As we stood 2nd in the previous tournament, we will work hard this time and become the champion. I believe in my team and their hard-work will surely pay off.  
19. A lot of aspiring female cricketers have asked us this question. What are the pathway / steps to playing for your country (Nepal)?
Firstly, you need to be a Nepali and have Nepalese citizenship. After that you need to play selection games and basis your performance, you’re called in camps. If you get selected by our coaching staff and the captain, you are selected to play for the National team.
20. Your views on our Female Cricket as a platform?
Female Cricket is an amazing platform for female cricketers as they care about us, our problems, our challenges and highlight them, voice our support. We get to read a lot of inspiring stories from cricketers and their journey. How these cricketers managed to reach this level is worth knowing and very inspiring for new generations back home.
I am glad that even my story would reach out to several aspiring cricketers, given this opportunity by female cricket. Thank you so much for being a voice to our journey.  We all are with you. 
Interview with Rubina Chhetri - Captain of Nepal Women's Cricket Team
Vishal Yadav, Founder & CEO at Female Cricket

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