Former national chief badminton coach and Dronacharya S. Md. Arif is a shining example of discipline. The septuagenarian, in his 42 years of coaching, had come late just a couple of times, that too less than two minutes on both the occasions. “Discipline is the key. Once achieved the rest will fall in line,” he said to hundreds of young shuttlers during his brief interaction session during inaugural of Chetan Anand Badminton Academy. Mr. Arif had mentored Olympians and internationals such as P. Gopichand, Chetan Anand, P.V.V. Lakshmi, Saina Nehwal, Jwala Gutta, Shurti Kurien and J.B.S. Vidyasagar.
Q: Any fond memories of Vijayawada?
A: I was witness to former all England champion Prakash Padukone losing to Syed Modi in the senior Nationals here. I was also part of a couple of national camps.
Q. Your assessment of the present Indian badminton?
A: We are not doing well in doubles. We need to build strong doubles teams in men’s, women’s and the mixed categories.
Q: How are strong doubles teams formed?
A: We should discourage singles players from entering doubles. Doubles, in modern badminton, is a specialized segment and the players should be identified right at the beginning of their career. Since last five years, there is a change in Badminton Association of India’s (BAI) perspective.
Q: Your take on exclusive doubles tournament which is being conceived by BAI?
A: It is a good move. The exclusive doubles tournament will provide the much-needed competitive edge and it will help coaches to assess the performances of the pairs in a critical manner.
Q: On recovery after injury in badminton?
A: Injury is part of sports and we need to have highly qualified physiotherapist to detect and cure injuries in a short span of time. The lengthy rehab sometimes cripples fledging careers.
Q: How do you view the growth of badminton in AP and India?
A: We need at least eight more academies in Andhra Pradesh. The game is turning Hyderabad-centric. In India, the activity in North India is on the wane.
The region that produced players like Dinesh Khanna, Suresh Goel, Vikram Bisht and Ajay Kanwar is just a shadow of its past. May players from that region are coming to Hyderabad for training.
Q: What is your routine?
A: I get up at 4.30 a.m. after an hour of yoga I head for the badminton courts at LB Stadium (Hyderabad) to be with my wards for a couple of hours.