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A bastion of badminton goes to seed

Going strong: Age does not seem to stop S.M. Arif as he continues to coach youngters.

Going strong: Age does not seem to stop S.M. Arif as he continues to coach youngters.  

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Fateh Maidan Indoor Stadium becoming a forgotten venue

Is Fateh Maidan Indoor Stadium fast becoming a forgotten venue for Indian badminton? A visibly disgusted S.M. Arif, Dronacharya and former chief national coach, seems to think so.

“Mostly this venue hosts non-sporting events, which is deplorable. After training for the first time this week, we are told now it is let out for another event for the next five days,” said Arif in a chat with The Hindu after another of his daily training stints.

“Effectively all the 50-odd trainees in different age groups would be idling their time away doing nothing, which they cannot afford if they are to become big in the sport. With the adjacent Lal Bahadur Stadium too dug up for one non-sporting event or the other, they can’t even afford physical conditioning exercises for fear of injuries,” he said.

At 76, Arif just cannot think of being away from the venue where he started coaching under Sports Authority of India in 1978 after being transferred from Jammu & Kashmir. He oversaw the first batch of players Praveen Kumar and Manoj Kumar win international laurels.

In a way, these two were an inspiration to P. Gopi Chand, the former All England champion and now chief national coach.

“I pity these young players who show commitment and dedication, braving all odds to be here daily with the hope of getting some training,” said Arif, who retired in 2004 but continues to offer free coaching.

All that the Sports Authority of Telangana State does is give the venue at its convenience and the services of former international Ch. Deepthi — a dedicated and knowledgeable coach according to Arif — who is on its roll as a consolidated coach.

The trainees have to shell out about ₹700 per head every month and also have to buy their own shuttles.

“This is certainly not the way to treat a venue, which not long ago was the hub of Indian badminton as most of the national camps were held here,” he said.

“I wish better sense prevails and ushers in a change in attitude towards us,” said Arif, clearly worried about the big question — what next after him?

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 2:41:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/a-bastion-of-badminton-goes-to-seed/article30515110.ece

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