I hope we can go beyond rhetoric when it comes to badminton
I am amused by how we all (shamelessly) basked in the glory of Olympian PV Sindhu. Everyone trying to get a slice of her fame. Thanks to her, girls got all the attention, albeit briefly. Three themes that were getting ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ on the social media were: How giving birth to a girl child itself deserves a medal; how all government schools should have badminton courts; and why every parent needs to enroll his/her ward in this sport so that we can win more medals.
Of course, a top leader also indicated that the state would find a better coach who can help the player fetch a gold, not just a silver. If I am not mistaken, someone even suggested we have a new badminton minister. Our neighbouring state went to the extent of wanting to host the Olympics. Surprising because all they can play now is football as they have no other facilities.
Before you accuse me of being uncharitable to the Hyderabadi girl at a time when I should be celebrating her, let me clarify that I am merely trying to point out how we get temporarily swayed and miss the real point.
Sindhu is undoubtedly a phenomenon created by ultra dedicated parents and a mentor who manifests sheer brilliance in his protégés. She dedicated years of her life to arrive where she is. Her family never questioned why she was playing for 14 hours instead of studying, for 12 years. Most importantly, her coach worked with her relentlessly to bring her to fruition. So it is not as simple as enrolling in a sport for fun.
On the day of Sindhu’s felicitation at the Gachibowli stadium, I spoke to PVV Lakshmi, wife of Pullela Gopichand and an accomplished shuttler herself. She told me how there was a surge of enrollments in their academy in the last week alone. The academy’s filled to capacity for the next five years with no room for any more enrollments. What was striking is how adults too wanted to jump into the bandwagon after Rio. I am not at all discouraging the sporting spirit, but merely emphasising the need for a consistent response and a clarity on such events.
It is wonderful that we can realise and recognise our strengths in the city and whole-heartedly participate in the welcome rallies even bunking office. But it is not about forcing every child in front of a TV camera to say ‘I want to play badminton and win a gold in Olympics’. Because first it was cricket, then tennis, now badminton. Tomorrow?
Needless to say, I am glad that we respond with such intensity. Hyderabad is known for it. But what next? We may see a new line of sarees with racquets printed on it. Or racquet Ganesha for the festival. Or books may soon have racquet science instead of rocket science. Let us wait and watch.
— The writer is a popular TV show host, radio jockey, professional singer… and most importantly, a hardcore Hyderabadi)