Commentary helps me to bridge the gap with the game: Aparna Popat

By: Swetha
Date: 18 Jan, 2018
Image Courtesy: PBL/Facebook

Aparna Popat, the 39-year-old feels great to be part of commentary panel, which helps her to be in touch with the sport. The former nine-time consecutive national champion is intrigued much about analysing the game, strategies, and reading more about the crucial part of badminton, which is not much surprise for her after her [professional career.

Aparna, who was the commentator at the recently-concluded PBL 3, said, “I am not so expressive as a person. So when I took to commentary it was a challenge. But I enjoy it now.”

She elaborated her coaching for young kids saying, “I coach very young kids at very grassroots level. I love the sport and love kids. From the bottom of my heart I want more kids to play. Coaching takes care of that and commentary gives the opportunity to keep me in touch with the game and pursue my interest.”

Talking about this season’s PBL’s success, she said, “In terms of external impact like popularity of the game, fans coming in numbers to the stadia to watch, the lucrativeness of it, it did impact a lot. And from the players’ perspective, it gives the Indian young shuttlers a lot of confidence. They get to rub shoulders with the best in the world and spending time with coaches like Fernando Rivas is an experience you will never think of. All this allows players to believe in themselves.

“PBL represents India in good light. For the growth of any sport we need government and federation support. Badminton is in such a good space now, we have international tournaments in Indian and then PBL. It can’t get better,” she added.

On asking about how she missed such league like PBL during her career time, Aparna has no regrets as there were different times and the game has changed a lot in the last decade. She said, “There was not much support back then. Or maybe we didn’t know how to get it. We were experimenting a lot. But it started with Prakash Padukone’s academy. It was the first academy that was set up. Till then there was no concept of an academy.”

“There were private academies. Players used to come there and practice, play nationals and go back. But that academy brought everyone together to practice together. The physical training, the fitness came in. then we started looking at commonwealth and Asian Games medals. But obviously the big boost came when Saina started doing well under Gopi. Then Gopi academy was set up and then things exploded from there on,” she explained.

Praising BAI’s effort, she contented saying, “I think it is fantastic. BAI has been struggling to get this done and they managed to do it last year. If you look around the world, all the players play their nationals. It is just that what we can do is to schedule the tournament at proper time and the facilities should be good. These players are among top in the world and what we have to do is keep up with the facilities we provide them for the tournaments. That is what they are asking for.”

Aparna is hoping for individual medals of Asian Games, for which we have been waiting since so long. “This has to be the year because of course there is Saina, Sindhu, Srikanth, Kashyap and others. But we need doubles players to get medals in team championships. Now there are good players - Sikki and Pranav. We featured in four of five events in last Olympics. That is an indication that there is an all-round development of the game,” she concluded.

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