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A Danish touch for Kerala badminton

John Eipe Nissi plans to support a few Kerala shuttlers and also bring in Dane coaches to the State, says STAN RAYAN



BACKING THE GAME Former Kerala badminton star John Eipe Nissi

The other night, a boisterous gang of young men sat together at a city hotel to celebrate the homecoming of one of its stars. And as they clinked the glasses, they loudly cried out adi adi.

Watching them, this writer, more used to toasts of the `cheers' kind, turned a bit groggy even before the first sip. A few minutes later, one came to understand that Adi Adi was the name of the beer brewed by two young Kerala engineers John Eipe Nissi and his friend Pradeep Kumar a few years ago. And the group was celebrating John Eipe's brief visit to the State.

In a way, Kerala badminton has many happy reasons to celebrate too. For John, a former State badminton star who is now based in Denmark, plans to support a few talented shuttle players in the State.

"My company, Peak Telecom, sponsors a few badminton stars in Denmark. Here in Kerala, apart from supporting some promising players, I have plans to bring in coaches from Denmark on short stints to Kochi. I'm studying the scene here now," said the Copenhagen-based John who shuttles frequently to London to run his telecom business.

John comes from a badminton family in Ernakulam. His brother Nebu Chacko and sister Elizaba Suni were among the best in the State a couple of decades ago. And when John moved from the U.S. to Denmark a few years ago, he must have been quite thrilled.

For Denmark is virtually a badminton country. "We have tournaments there almost every weekend and there are so many age-group events," said John, a former junior National doubles runner-up.

John, who was playing alongside Vimal Kumar, his brother Vinod and Suresh Thomas in Kerala, had been a strong doubles player in his heyday.

That could be one reason why he chose to sponsor Denmark's doubles specialists, World No.3 Thomas Laybourn and No.8 Lars Paaske and Kamilla Rytter Juhl, the last two were named as the Dane `players of the year' in 2005.

He is married to Lena, a former badminton player in Copenhagen, and his two sons, 11-year-old Joshua and eight-year-old Joel are coached by former world champion Peter Rasmussen.

"Joshua is among the best in his age-group in Denmark," said the 40-year-old John.

"Our children here very, very promising. I want them to come up."

Kerala's budding stars will be happy to hear that.

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