Shocked over his colleagues inviting him to play cricket in sub zero London suburb, Arjun Choudhary returned Jammu to create the state of the art sports complex where all games can be played indoor. The Rs 25 crore project, however, has to face the challenges of unpredictable market, reports R S Gull
It was intensely cold winter in 2005 when Arjun Choudhary was part of a sports exchange to London. It was dripping and the sun was barely visible, he still remembers. It such a situation he could not imagine that in UK boys play cricket despite adverse weather conditions.
When he was driven to a sports complex, it amazed him. It was a massive concrete monster housing a vast hall with astro turf pitch. For most of the time that he spent in the indoor cricket stadium, it was the place, rather than the game that dominated his thought process, a hangover that eventually sowed the seeds of a new age enterprise in Arjun, the scion of Jammu’s prominent business family, the KC group.
A few years later, when his billionaire father Raju Choudhary sent him for graduation to UK, it exposed the boy to the first world’s most advanced country, its technological advancement, the values systems, family set up and the art of making money from sunrise sectors. He studied in Nottingham, Britain’s East Midland area for three years ending 2009 and flew home with B A (Honours).
It still required some more time for the young KCean to take care of the pros and cons of the project that he had conceived off shore. After coming over lot if ifs and buts, the family finally decided to support their son and the foundation of the gigantic concrete monster was laid in early 2013.
“It was beginning of a long exercise involving managing permissions from different line departments and getting clearance from the apex project clearance committee (APCC),” says Raju Choudhary. “The major issue was to convince the concerned that the project was more about creating an academy sort of structure and less of a fitness centre but thank God the people understood it.”
Arjun says his ideation of doing something unconventional became clear after he spent quality time in the British college. “There you are not spoon fed the knowledge but encouraged to think and find answers,” Arjun says amid his intermittent handshakes with the members of his academy. “It is new experimentation and it has unforeseen challenges.”
His club is operational for limited sports for some time now but Arjun is against creating hype by resorting to a media blitzkrieg, usually the conventional system of introducing and marketing new facilities with a bang. “I have learned by experience that word of mouth is more powerful than the few attractive lines in a newspaper,” he said. “I have instances in which young boys got their parents to our gym after feeling satisfied with the infrastructure and the facilities.” They even want it to be economically viable to suit their pockets.
The club has a single membership fee for all the facilities it offers. Once in, it is your decision to get engaged either in gymnasium, cricket, dancing halls, tennis, basket ball, badminton courts, squash and martial arts. Time matters more than the sport that interests the member.
Ground floor houses the gym that has state of the art trade mills. As the member starts workout, he switches on his favourite soup opera on the TV facing him. It has lot many attractions that usually are required in a body building saloon. There is a squash court and a completely separate section for women with personal care and exercise facilities. Every section has its own guides and trainers.
The top floor of the multi story 60,000 sq feet structure houses the indoor cricket stadium which has five distinct net pitches. It has a robotic bowler that throws the ball on the astro turf. Arjun has imported the turf from New Zealand. The facility is a huge hit as more than 60 boys are regularly practicing here in the 20,000 sq ft hall.
Arjun has tied up with cricketer Yuvraj Singh’s academy and expects better coaching in near future. He hopes one day a test cricketer comes out of his academy and becomes his brand ambassador.
“Right now, we have close to 200 annual members, some of them have our fitness centre as the main attraction,” Arjun said. “But every week we get all our members to a joint event in which we invite them to play cricket and have fun which is getting us a good feedback.” Nearly 20 members are interested in martial arts alone.
Arjun hopes that the start of five lane swimming pool will get huge attraction once it becomes operational. Currently in advanced stage of implementation, the 10 x 20 meter pool with six ft depth is planned to stay warm in winter so that members do not feel any interruptions during the year. The facility is currently managed by around 25 individuals and the numbers are increasing as the new facilities open up.
The family that already falls in the ‘first among the equals’ class with nearly Rs 600 crore investments in diverse sectors is determined to fight all challenges to make their new initiative a grand success. “It is something unconventional, but it is something very important for the personal well being of the people,” says Raju, Arjun’s father. “It is a dream project as the facility lacks any near comparison in entire north India.” Arjun also admits the element of risk in his maiden foray but he insists that his education has taught him enough to tackle out-of-box situations.