Coronavirus lockdown: Mental fatigue the biggest challenge, says S.M. Arif

Badminton coach S.M. Arif feels the biggest challenge for any athlete because of the current lockdown, when it ends hopefully, can be a possible mental fatigue. 

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

Going strong: Age does not seem to stop S.M. Arif as he continues to coach youngsters.   -  V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Dronacharya S.M. Arif feels the biggest challenge for any athlete because of the current lockdown, when it ends hopefully, can be a possible mental fatigue. 

“For all those athletes, or for that matter any individual, who are otherwise busy with their daily routines and confined to indoors now for such a long time might well face this kind of challenge which is a very scary scenario. So, it is imperative to keep this in mind and do whatever best possible to steer clear of this issue,” says Arif in a chat with Sportstar.

And, this untiring coach says he is doing right now what he has never done before in his 46 years of coaching - stretching exercises on the rooftop of his residence and telephonic interaction with his trainees.

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The 76-year-old renowned badminton coach, whose coaching with national teams started four decades ago, has always been a regular at Fateh Maidan, his ‘second home’. 

“Yes, this happens to be the longest break for me beating the previous one during the last General Elections,” Arif adds.

How difficult is it? “For me, it has been a different kind of tough challenge. As you know, though I have retired16 years ago but continue to visit Fateh Maidan and give coaching free of cost for I can’t just be sitting at home and love to be with the trainees,” he says. 

“So, it is not just the athletes who are hit badly even we coaches find it extremely challenging to overcome this crisis. And, being not sure what is in store, we are keeping our fingers crossed for sure,” says the coach who was the first one to produce international medallists in badminton from India ever since he joined the national panel of coaches in 1974.

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“Well, there are no options except to stay indoors for anyone given the grim scenario. But, my genuine concern is that the players should not get too rusty during this lockdown,” he feels. 

What is his advice to the trainees? “Just to do minimum exercises possible at home to maintain basic fitness levels. Too much of rest is a scary thing,” says Arif, who introduced the likes of Manoj Kumar, Praveen Kumar, Gopi Chand, Saina Nehwal to name a few to the world of badminton. 

How are you are spending time? “Well, that is another huge task. Watching Discovery TV channel a lot of late to feel fresh,” he signs off with a smile. 

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