Shreya Khadka spearheads Nepali women’s basketball’s quest for a victory in Asian Games

Shreya Khadka
Shreya Khadka

On a hot summer day, Shreya Khadka and her teammates are training hard. Sweat drips down their face as they put in the work on the basketball court at Mamba Sports Center. It is hot and humid, but Khadka and her team are running around and doing various drills as they prepare to take part in the upcoming Asian Games 2023 that is going to be held in Hangzhou, China.

Khadka, 23, is the captain of Nepal’s basketball team that will represent Nepal in the 3×3 basketball in the Asian Games. She is the only member of the team who has played an international level 3×3 basketball tournament. Part of Nepal’s team that took part in the 2019 Asian Games, she knows how tough the opponents are going to be.

“This is only the third time we are taking part in the 3×3 basketball competition in Asian Games. We want to play well and win at least one game this year,” Khadka said.

Gearing up for Asian Games

National women's team practicing for Asian Games, slated for September
National women’s team practising for Asian Games, slated for September

Shreya Khadka and the members of the national women’s team have been training for the past three months. They are taking part in at least 10 practice sessions a week. As the date for the tournament nears, the team feels confident as they have seen their performance get better over time.

Khadka knowns that they will need more than that to win games at the Asian Games.

“We did not win a single game in 2019 but I realised what it takes to win. We were not physical enough and this time have worked on it,” she said. “Another important takeaway from the tournament was that height does not matter.”

Although she acknowledges the significant role that height plays in basketball, she holds the belief that the assumption that tall players are inherently skilled is false.

“It’s all about skills and strength and we are working on it,” she said.

To get stronger and compete physically with the rest of Asia, the team has been powerlifting and playing against men.

“We’ve also been eating right,” Khadka said.

Lingering challenges

Shreya Khadka will be accompanied by Garisha Silwal, Mina Gurung and Rinchen Moktan in the national team.
Shreya Khadka will be accompanied by Garisha Silwal, Mina Gurung and Rinchen Moktan in the national team.

The team is showing an unwavering commitment to the tournament. However, the team says they are facing various challenges and one of those is the lack of consistent and effective training sessions

What has not helped the team is they do not have a dedicated practice facility and are instead making use of rented spaces at two locations: Surya Sports Centre in Dhumbarahi and Mamba Sports Center in Buddhanagar.

The disadvantage of relying on rented venues is that their practice schedules are dependent on court availability, and furthermore, these courts lack the necessary training equipment and resources.

Moreover, the format of a 3×3 basketball tournament is also comparatively different from a full-court basketball tournament. That is another challenge for Shreya Khadka and her team. In contrast to a conventional basketball game, the team’s coach will not be present next to them. Instead, the coach is required to occupy a seat in the audience and is prohibited from providing any form of verbal or symbolic instructions.

This is where Khadka’s leadership skills as captain come in.

“As a captain, I have to do a lot. I am not just supposed to play the game. I also have to maintain communication and coordination and take decisions of what play to run and when,” said Khadka. “I know this is going to be tough.”

Khadka will be accompanied by Garisha Silwal, Mina Gurung and Rinchen Moktan in the national team. Silwal and Gurung have already played with Khadka in the national women’s basketball. Silwal and Gurung won bronze medals in the 3×3 basketball tournament during the 13th South Asian Games (SAG), held in 2019 in Nepal. 

Knowing the captain

Shreya Khadka
Shreya Khadka

Shreya Khadka has been playing for the national team since her school days. She made her national team debut at just 16 years old during the 12th South Asian Games in 2016. Including age group tournaments, she has participated in a total of six international tournaments. Four years ago, Khadka was part of the Asian Games, where she played under the leadership of Anusha Malla.

But among all of them, the upcoming Asian Games is going to be the most important tournament for her life because of the role she has earned and it has made her excited.

“I have set a simple goal of winning one match. It is going to be tough but me and the team are going to give our all to fulfil this goal,” said Khadka.

While the goal might not feel huge to many, for the basketball team, it is massive. Nepal has not won a single match in the Asian Games so far and Shreya Khadka and her team want to change that.

“If we do that, we can then focus on the 14th South Asian Games where I want to win a gold medal,” she said.

Recognising the necessity for enhancing the current state of Nepali basketball, she emphasises the importance of implementing changes at a policy level.

“We only look at talents in Kathmandu. We need to take basketball away from the capital and look at players from across the country. Doing that will help improve the level,” she said.

Additionally, she hopes the national team can have its own dedicated basketball court where they can train anytime.

“These are small aspirations that can be achieved though planning nad hard work,” says Khadka.

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Prasun Sangroula is an Onlinekhabar correspondent, mainly covering arts, society and sports.

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