Indian badminton player Ashwini Ponnappa believes that academics and sports can co-exist in an athlete’s life.
The Indian shuttler, who along with Jwala Gutta won a bronze medal at the 2011 World Badminton Championships, felt that it eventually boils down to support that an upcoming talent receives during the early days that paves way for a career in sports.
“I think the way is to find a balance between the two. Your parents want you to study because it’s important. But it’s possible to find a balance,” said the 30-year-old speaking on a YouTube interview with the BadminTalk channel.
“The problem is that sports is yet to become big as such (in India). A lot of parents do push their children into studies and not sports. So, sports has always taken a back seat.
“But for me, fortunately, my parents encouraged me to take up sports and stick to it and a lot of children don’t get that opportunity.
“They do start at a young age, but the minute they get to high school it’s ‘no more badminton. Just studies’.
Banking on self-help
However, even if a career in badminton doesn't take off, the Indian shuttler felt that there were many avenues that athletes could explore to pursue their passion.
“You can do your studies and also badminton. In that way, you are not only learning and getting better, but also loving and pursuing your passion,” said Ashwini Ponnappa, who presented India at London 2012 and Rio 2016.
“And worst case if that isn’t possible, in this day and age, there are so many YouTube videos that you can watch and learn.
“You can watch the top players and learn. You can always learn the sport. Use your mind… watch someone and try to get the game into your system.”
The Indian shuttler is back home in Bengaluru, Karnataka during the COVID-19 period, but is eager to get back on the court at the earliest.
“I stay in an apartment here (in Bengaluru). But I have a small area where I can do my workouts. And then we have set up a small net inside the house as well, so I can practice my serves there.
“But I am looking forward to getting on the court soon,” she shared.