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Sport - Badminton Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Attack more, says Arif

Stan Rayan

KOCHI: As the little kids smashed the shuttle and then rushed to tap the little `birds' lined up on the front court, one realised that badminton could be fun.

Hitting shuttles for hours in a sweaty stadium may not be the most exciting thing to do on a sunny morning but S.M. Arif came up with little things that made his coaching sessions very interesting.

"C'mon old ladies, move," the former National coach told the girls who were yet to touch their teens. The little girls smiled as they hurried up their play and worked till the seventh sweat.

The ten shuttles, on each court, were meant to improve the children's mobility, flexibility and reflexes. And the little kids were getting some valuable lessons on how to get ready for a drop soon after delivering a smash.

Amazing talent

"The amount of talent here is amazing. I haven't seen so much talent in one place as I see in this camp," said the Hyderabad-based Dronacharya Awardee who is now coaching children at the Regional Sports Centre's summer camp in Kochi.

"I see a lot of Gopichands popping up from here. Some of the children are as good or better than what Gopi was at this age," said Arif.

That should be very good news for Kerala. For Arif has produced some of the best players in Indian badminton, the brightest being former All-England champion Gopichand.

"Children here are very committed and disciplined. They are willing to work hard. And they have a natural talent for the sport. Now I know why Kerala keeps producing so many national champions," said Arif, the National coach from 1997 to 2004.

"But they have to be a bit more aggressive in their approach. They should be more attacking. I'm trying to inculcate this into their system," said the 62-year-old.

"Also, a few of them have developed a wrong habit of taking the shuttle very late. They have to jump and attack it much faster, like some of the world's best players do," said Arif who retired from the Sports Authority of India early last year.

Think big

Moving on to the National scene, Arif said that most of the Indian players are easily contented with small achievements. "We fix small targets but we have to strive to make a mark at the world level. Also, we need to play more tournaments to improve our rankings," he said.

For sure, hard work has its rewards.

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