Navyaranjan Das faced Priyanshu Kumar in the boys’ second qualification round on the opening day of Smt. Krishna Khaitan Memorial All India Junior Ranking Badminton Tournament, organised by the Express Shuttle Club Trust, with Das’ mother Geetanjali Buragohain a nervous watcher.
After her husband Prafulla Das passed away 11 years ago, Geetanjali has supported her son’s love for badminton and travels with him for junior ranking tournaments. After a 15-8, 13-15, 15-5 win to move into the third qualification round, the youngster received a warm hug from his mother.
“I started playing badminton a year after my father died in 2007. Earlier, I would only play with my kindergarten friends at the stadium in Sivasagar but it was only after my father’s death that I took up the game seriously. He wanted to see me play at the national and international level. My mother has supported my dream and whenever I play in ranking tournaments, she travels with me,” Das said.
“It has meant that she often takes unpaid leave from her job but wins like these means I can qualify for the main draw and improve my ranking in the U-19 category to keep my dream of representing India alive.”
The youngster started playing under coach Dhruba Dutta and four years later, claimed the silver medal in the U-10 category at the Assam State Championships before becoming the U-13 state champion in 2015. Before long, he was inducted into the SAI Academy in Bhubaneswar. But a shin injury coupled with the coaches’ insistence on more physical training instead of on-court training promptd Das to leave the academy.
With Geetanjali working as a government teacher in Sivasagar, the family had to take loans to support his participation in junior ranking tournaments, apart from training at the Prakash Padukone Sports Management Training Centre in Bengaluru. “When I was inducted into the SAI Academy, my mother was very happy. But more physical training meant I suffered a shin injury and after consultation with my mother, I decided to leave the academy. I would train with school players at the stadium in Sivasagar and this year, I decided to move to the Prakash Padukone Sports Management Training Centre for three months. It meant an expenditure of more than Rs one lakh and my mother had to incur a loan. Most of the players competing in junior ranking tournaments have coaches to support and giving them on court guidance, but for me, my mother has been the biggest inspiration and guide,” Das shared.
The last six months have seen Das competing in three U-19 junior ranking tournament with his best result coming in Tirupur in May, where he lost in the third round. With limited finances, he competes in junior ranking tournaments at the U-17 level too. “Last year, I got an opportunity to see 2008 Olympic mixed doubles gold medallist Lee Yong-Dae of South Korea in action during the PBL in Guwahati and also met Kidambi Srikanth. I hope I can win at the junior level and seek tips from him. Two months ago, my brother got a job at Google and I hope I can continue my winning run here so that he and his friends can watch my wins on Google,” he concluded.