David Palmer: Indians willing to work hard

The four-time British Open champion is training a group of Indian youngsters as part of a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiative.

Former World No 1 and four-time British Open champion David Palmer (centre), with noted player Ravi Dixit (second from left) and the trainees at Gurugram (Haryana).   -  Special Arrangement

Squash enjoys limited appeal, patronage and interest. Unlike other racquet sports, lack of easy access to a squash court in the country has kept away millions of children from pursuing this otherwise energy-sapping discipline. In such a scenario, it is indeed heartening to find a company sparing a tidy sum, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, to train hand-picked under-privilege children, that too, under a former World No. 1 player.

David Palmer, a four-time winner of the British Open and twice World Open champion, was engaged by Renew Power to train a group of teenagers, including three girls, here. The 41-year-old Aussie has held two training camps – once in April this year – of five days each, to help these kids sharpen their skills, improve their fitness and help discover the champion in them.

“Talent is one thing and what you do with it, is completely different. Like in any work to be successful, there is no magic, no secret – you need to put in the hard hours. There are no short cuts,” said the man who ‘retired’ from the sport in 2011 to take up coaching. He did return to competitive squash in 2014 and collected both doubles gold medals in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

“What I like about Indians is that they are willing to work hard. There are a lot of talented kids out there. They are still very young and much depends on how much effort they are willing to put in. I can’t do the running for them or hitting for them. A weekly plan is very important. These days, with the growing technology, kids have so many distractions and excuses not to do what they need to be doing. But one has to overcome them,” he pointed out.

‘More confident’

Looking at the positives, Palmer said, “Some of these kids were part of the previous group (the campers in April), while some others are new. Some older kids are hitting ball more cleanly, they are a little bit more in control and they look more confident on the court about what they really want to achieve. That’s the biggest improvement I have seen this week.”

Once Palmer goes back, the responsibility of building on the gains from the camp falls on Ravi Dixit, who is among the top-ranked players in the country and recently won the Telangana Open title.

Ravi, who runs a coaching centre here, sounds upbeat about the venture. “I always wanted to work with the under-priviledged children because I, too, faced similar hardships while pursing squash. I obviously follow the chart prepared by David, whom I know for a few years. It really feels good to see these kids evolve as players to reckon with.”

As the ReNew Power Director Vaishali Nigam Sinha put it, “It has been very satisfying to provide these children with training and the opportunities to compete in tournaments. With professionals like David and Ravi, along with others, we are working in areas to groom these children into confident individuals, ready to take on the world.”

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