Vimal Kumar: Competitions are a must to keep youngsters active

Former India national badminton coach U. Vimal Kumar says this has been a very hard time for youngsters.

Vimal Kumar served as India’s chief national coach from 2003 to 2006.

Vimal Kumar served as India’s chief national coach from 2003 to 2006. (File photo)   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

Despite the long lockdown and many restrictions, young badminton star Pavithra Naveen managed to train the whole of last year, putting in nearly three sessions every day. She was entering a new age-group and her coach Antony K. Jacob convinced her to work harder.

“But I didn't play a single tournament for a whole year. It was my first under-17 year and I was really fit, so it was very disappointing,” said the 16-year-old, the Kerala women's singles champion, in a chat with Sportstar.

Small goals

“During tournaments, we can focus more since we have a target. Nowadays, we are practising without goals as there are no tournaments. It was a bit hard for me because I kept setting small goals for myself frequently.”

Pavithra is perhaps luckier than many others in the country as many children could not even train and had only online sessions during the lockdown.

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That could be really shattering for the juniors, feels former international U. Vimal Kumar.

“The youngsters are suffering. Just like education, sport has been completely destroyed in the last one-and-a-half years because of COVID-19,” the former national coach said from Bengaluru.

“Definitely, more than the established people, this has been a very hard time for youngsters. COVID-19 has destroyed them, basically it destroys your soul.”

So, competitions are a must, feels Vimal.

“They have to compete, whatever one may say, sportspersons need competitions. The earlier they start, at whatever level, it's good for them,” said the former national champion.

“I'm talking about the smaller level, conduct a small event at the district level, whether it is badminton or tennis, it's not for ranking or anything, it is just to keep the activities on.

“That's why some of the other top nations always have their domestic activities. Unfortunately, we are not able to do that in our country.

“Everybody is talking about the possibility of a third wave and a fourth wave, this is not going to go away any time soon. So, we have to find ways to live with it. That's the only way.”

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