BADMINTON ...Is Prakash Padukone’s advice to parents of young shuttlers. The legendary player insists it is best to leave them to learn from their mistakes

At a function in Bangalore, former All-England champion Prakash Padukone sought to air his views on Indian badminton in a frank manner. Not surprisingly, Padukone had the undivided attention of everyone gathered at the Karnataka Badminton Association hall.

“I think the younger badminton players are placing too much emphasis on seedings and rankings. While they are important, it’s essential to pay attention to how you go about achieving it. Just for the sake of collecting ranking points, players now compete in a huge number of tournaments even if they aren’t fully fit or prepared,” the 57-year-old said.

Padukone spoke at a felicitation function organised by the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy to honour its players who have won national and international events in 2012. “A good sportsman never plays tournaments if he isn’t fully prepared to win them. In my opinion, instead of playing many tournaments and losing in the early rounds, a shuttler should play four or five tournaments, give it his best and win them all. That way, you can get the same amount of ranking points. Performance is always more important than rankings.”

The Padma Shri awardee also had a word of advice to parents of young shuttlers. “I request the parents not to pamper or pressurise the children too much; it is best to leave them to learn from mistakes on their own. Advice and interference from parents just confuses the players, which is very harmful. Leave the on-court affairs to the coaches. I have been talking about this for a long time, but I believe that parents continue to ignore these points.” Olympian Ashwini Ponnappa - one of the players felicitated at the ceremony – expressed her gratitude to the coaches who made her success possible.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games women’s doubles gold medalist had moved to Hyderabad from Bangalore a few years ago, and is now set to return to the city. “My parents have moved back to Bangalore. So when there are no camps in Hyderabad, I will practice here at the KBA. This is a second home to me, I have been playing here for a long time,” the 23-year-old said.

The doubles specialist also thanked the KBA for giving her an honorary club membership earlier, during a separate function conducted by the association. “I feel really honoured to be given membership to the KBA. The coaches and facilities here are amazing. Since I am going to be coming to Bangalore more often now, I have a place to train and use all the other facilities available here.”

“There will be a lot of travelling now between the two cities, though I more comfortable training in Bangalore rather than in Hyderabad,” she added.

U. Vimal Kumar, former national champion and PPBA chief coach, stressed that Karnataka still produces quality players, even if it not instantly obvious. “Usually the State never gets credit for a player’s success. Most of the winners play for an institution like Air India and this is what we see in the results column. But if you look at it closer, you will find that there are many Karnataka players who have done very well in the Nationals. It is just that our players have done well for other institutions.”

Karnataka’s show at National-level events in the previous year was highlighted as well, when the KBA gave away cash prizes to the 15 shuttlers from the State who finished with a medal in the senior and various junior age-group categories.

As the evening drew to a close, Padukone’s parting advice would have surely given the young champions something to think about. “To all the players here, don’t be satisfied yet. These are baby steps, and there is a long way to go. Do your best to achieve success at the international level too.”

ASHWIN ACHAL

In my opinion, instead of playing many tournaments and losing in the early rounds, a shuttler should play four or five tournaments, give it his best and win them all.

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