Jeje keeping himself occupied with badminton in off-season

The forward finds badminton the perfect recipe to unwind and to rejuvenate himself for the forthcoming season.

“I have always been a huge fan of Lee Chong Wei. As a teenager I idolised him,” says Jeje.   -  AIFF Media

Crickets often play football as a warm-up exercise while playing water polo is considered an effective way to keep the body fit on non-training days. Indian cricket team opener K.L Rahul is a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) enthusiast while Usain Bolt has often his desire to play football after retirement. For All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) Player of The Year Jeje Lalpekhlua, the choice of sport is badminton.

The forward finds the shuttle cock and the racket the perfect recipe to unwind and to rejuvenate himself for the forthcoming season.

“I grew up watching badminton and I just love to play it. I’m lucky that I have the opportunity to represent my country in football otherwise I would have a badminton player for sure,” quips Jeje.

“During the off-season there is no football. But I do have to maintain my fitness. Hitting the gym is fine but badminton makes it more fun. Plus, I can hang out with my friends at the same time,” he informs. “The sport requires quick reflexes and perfect hand-eye coordination including your feet. You also have to good with your footwork. So your whole body is involved.”

In the quaint small hamlet of Hnahthial, the roads stay narrow, the valleys too steep. Public buses and jeeps are the only means of transport in this town of 8000. The people from the hills are traditionally known to be fit but an athlete’s fitness levels are even higher.

“I have always been a huge fan of Lee Chong Wei. As a teenager I idolised him. His dominance is just so exciting,” recollects Jeje. “You know what, I’m the Lee Chong Wei of my gang,” he adds.

‘So do you smash as hard as your idol?’

“I try to. Have you seen his leap? He is so amazing,” Jeje murmurs.

Some moments later, you stumble across a viral video of one of Jeje’s goal in the Hero I-League wherein his magical first touch to trap the ball from over his shoulder flummoxes all – the perfect example of the hand-eye coordination albeit with a feet which Jeje was speaking about.