Fateh Maidan Indoor Stadium presents a study of contrasts. Even as Delhi is spending crores of rupees to ensure that the 2010 Commonwealth Games is a success story, the players and the coaches at this venue, which has produced many world-class players over the years from Hyderabad including Manoj Kumar, Praveen Kumar, Pullela Gopi Chand, Chetan Anand, Saina Nehwal and the famous doubles pair of Gutta Jwala and Sruthi Kurien, are still searching for some kind of support in getting shuttles for daily training.

For the shuttlers who assemble daily, under the watchful guidance of coach S.M. Arif, and his trusted deputy and SAAP consolidated coach Goverdhan Reddy, the shortage of shuttles is a major block.

This is primarily due to the fact that SAAP confines its role to letting out the venue for training and not really providing any equipment for the daily schedule. The reason, a senior official of SAAP says, is that they are already overburdened by paying the electricity charges per month running into thousands of rupees for the venue. “Severe financial crunch has forced us to cut down on several aspects and the emphasis right now is to see these players ‘manage' the show,” he argues.

But, the grim reality is that each box containing 12 Indian shuttles costs about Rs. 500 and the trainees need at least five boxes daily. “It is two years since we have been given any shuttles by SAAP,” is the general complaint at the venue. Interestingly, SAAP officials also reason out that the monthly fee of about Rs. 300 which they collect from each of the 130 trainees is not even sufficient to match the electricity bill.

Yet, it is a tribute to the indefatigable spirit of both Arif and Goverdhan that they rarely miss a day's training programme. “We just can't think of staying away from this place,” says Arif who is synonymous with badminton coaching at the venue for close to four decades now.

Vinay Kumar Reddy, N.V.S. Vijetha, Yadav brothers – Rohit and Rahul, Sreyanshu, Shreya and Krishnapriya defy all odds with the hope of being better players in the days to come. This is again a symbol of how young talents are forced to face many grim realities before stepping into the comfort zone.

Keywords: badminton

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