SPORT

Arif dons a new role

V.V. Subrahmanyam

HYDERABAD: Having been a coach for more than three decades before retirement, Dronacharya awardee S.M. Arif just could not resist the temptation to get back on court. Bowing to requests from former trainees, he has decided to be an advisor at the badminton academy to be set up by his prot�g� and former All England champion, Pullela Gopi Chand.

"Yes, I told Gopi that I am always available in the role of an advisor and would love to be associated with his project. But the modalities have to be worked out," Arif told The Hindu here on Saturday. "I am just not able to think of life without badminton even after retirement," he said.

On the academy and also the Asian Badminton Confederation training centre in Hyderabad, Arif said a system should be worked out facilitating foreign players to train and compete (as in the German and French league), these two projects should do Indian badminton a world of good.

"I feel these academies should not be only coaching-specific for they have to cater to the needs of national players who need to train with world class players," he said.

Arif has just returned from Ernakulam after a month-long coaching programme initiated by former National champion George Thomas. "It was a good experience and I was surprised by the abundance of talent. These kids, in the age groups of 13, 16 and 19 years, need proper guidance at this crucial phase," he said.

He is pleased to note that many former players are into the job of spotting talent and felt that was a good sign. "For instance, George has meticulously planned the entire schedule," Arif said. His next `coaching' assignment is at Chandigarh for three weeks. "I wish such camps are held on a bigger scale in our State also. For, the kids basically look for a platform. Some want to take up the sport seriously and some want to fine-tune their skills," he said.

Arif doesn't believe that there are modern or old styles of coaching. "Essentially, a coach should first come to know the strengths and weaknesses of a player and then accordingly plan out a schedule," said Arif. "A coach has to meet the demands of a given situation. Obviously, you cannot teach a Gopi Chand how to play a smash. And, if a player of his calibre is going through a lean patch, the coach must realise that he needs some counselling. The coach has to don the role of a psychologist and keep up the morale," Arif said.

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