Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap vow to keep making India proud; want kids to take up sports as passion and profession
Badminton’s poster couple, Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap feels that Olympic sports in India are growing. They also want a system to be in place to make sure more retired athletes are given opportunity to train the upcoming players.
If you get a high seeing the tri-colour flutter in the sky, then there is a bigger high to make the flag keep flying higher with your efforts. That’s the emotion Badminton’s poster couple — Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap — experiences each time they win a medal for their country. As India celebrated its 70th Republic Day on January 26, we asked the couple what significance the day holds for them. Sounding emotional, they say, “We both are very patriotic and it’s such an important day for India. Our constitution was formed today. Lots of great people and great minds of India came together to make this happen. The history of India and the struggle for freedom and to make our own constitution was a major step.”
For the couple, Republic Day brings back memories of reading up about how India became free, thanks to the selfless sacrifice of our ancestors. “Reading our history books in school always inspired us, thinking about the great people of our country and how they made our nation what it is right now,” they share. Saina adds further, “The Republic Day parade that I have watched many times… how it’s such a grand affair showing the strength of our nation... It’s exciting. Watching the armed forces march is inspiring...”
And the sports couple says that it’s the “support the countrymen shower” on them that drives them to work harder. “People wishing well, cheering for us and feeling happy for us is motivating to say the least…,” says Kashyap.
There used to be a time when parents would discourage kids from taking up sports saying that there’s no future in it. Asked if the scenario has changed and the couple answers in affirmative. “I think we have a long way to go in becoming a sporting nation and we’re slowly progressing. Few sports in our country are picking up. To achieve high level performances and win medals at the big events needs a lot of support from the Government and sponsors in terms of money,” feels Kashyap.
Saina adds in agreement that it’s important that “top players in every sport become coaches later, or at least the option has to be given ” so that they can share their knowledge with next generation. “Most top players of the past have started their own thing because as a coach they wouldn’t be paid much. So, a system has to be put in place to produce champions,” she says.
Kashyap points out that right now the remuneration in sports is better that it was before. “Our parents took a big risk in allowing us to do what we like, but we never thought the sport would pick up this way. Thanks to Saina’s achievements and Gopi sir’s (Pullela Gopichand, former badminton player and now coach) commitment in making champions. He was one of those special people who committed himself into making champions and didn’t think about money. We can’t expect everyone to be like him, but things need to change.”
The couple feels other Olympic sports have a lot of catching up to do. “Badmintion is nothing close to cricket and tennis. We depend on the big cash rewards given to us by National and state governments… I think parents can let their kids play a particular sport... times are changing; Olympic sports will only grow in India. I hope more kids get the opportunity to take up sports both as a passion and career,” Saina signs off.
Author tweets @Shreya_MJ
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