July 25, 2013 12:59:31 am
On Wednesday,when he went to the Siri Fort Stadium and spoke to the youngsters playing in the Delhi State badminton championships,Tanvir Gill felt the advice he was giving carried more weight than usual. While Gill,31, is a national player of some repute with international doubles titles to his credit,the advice he was sharing was something he had himself picked up from someone he acknowledges as a far superior badminton player – Rashid Sidek.
For the youngsters,Sidek might be famous simply as coach of World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei. Gill,however,knows the Malaysian as one of the greatest players of the 1990s,a singles bronze medalist at Atlanta and a former World No. 1 himself. Having long accepted that he would remain merely a fan of Sidek,Gill got to meet his idol on relatively equal terms last week. Sidek was coach of the newly minted IBL team Delhi Smashers,and Gill is an assistant coach with the franchise.
“It was a different feeling to meet someone you consider an idol in real life. Initially I was in awe of him but he turned out to be really humble considering how successful he has been,” says Gill. But while Sidek is an elite coach,he needed Gill and the other Indian coach Vikram Bhasin’s help simply to get an idea of the strength of the domestic players.
Beyond helping him understand and plot an auction strategy for Indian players,Gill also helped Sidek – a practicing Muslim – feel at home. “Because it is Ramzan,Sidek fasts through the day. So on the day of the auction,I had a massive breakfast brought to his hotel room at 3am to ensure he didn’t feel tired. Later in the evening,I took him to Karim’s in old Delhi to break his fast. He really liked that,” Gill says.
Of course,Gill,who trains players himself at the Surjit Singh Academy in Pitampura, took the opportunity to pick the legendary coach’s brains. “Sidek told me that the role of a coach is to motivate his player but he can’t be overbearing or the player won’t respond. At times I make that mistake because when I am with a player who is playing poorly,I get upset because I feel that he isn’t working as hard as I am. But Sidek told me that in such cases all you can do is simply focus on the basics. Encourage him when he is playing well but when he is struggling just ask him to do simple things like keep moving his feet and to pick the shuttle when it is high,” Gill says.
According to Sidek,the difference between Lee Chong Wei and the rest of the players isn’t just talent. “He said that a lot of people have talent. What matters is also how they train. Sidek says Chong Wei trains ten times more than anyone else. It is also the intensity at which he trains. It is as if he is playing a match. He goes to each match expecting to win and he trains every day with that same purpose. That’s something I want my students to learn as well,” Gill says.
Sidek returned home to Malaysia soon after the auction and will be back ahead of the IBL season. Gill can’t wait for his return,to learn something more. With his own playing career slowly drawing to a close,Gill is now focussing his attentions on coaching.
“I won the mixed doubles title at the Bahrain International Challenge last year but I understand that my playing career is coming to an end. Because my father ran an academy in Pitampura,I have always been coaching even while playing. A little bit back I was thinking about getting a diploma from NIS,but ultimately I decided that it wasn’t worth spending a year studying theory when I could be learning on the court. There was a coaching clinic at the Gopichand Academy a couple of months back where coaches were taught about fitness and rehabilitation but I missed it. Still I think I will be able to learn something from Sidek for sure,” he says.
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