With cricket, now badminton has also come a long way in making the mark across the world. National Champion, Trupti Murgunde gets chatty with India Vocal about her career as a badminton player, her transition, as a coach and much more.
Sports not considered a choice as a career
Your growing days as a badminton player? “My early playing career sports was more taken up as recreation than absolute profession since everyone thought there isn’t much to take up as a career or a security for life.” Says she.
We keep hearing “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” an initiative by the government. A taboo which still exists in the 21st century. Being a girl child, how supportive were your parents during those days? “Parents support was the essential part of the making of my career. I lost my father at an early age; however, when he was alive he was very supportive and wanted me to be the senior national champion. So my National champion title is the most precious one for me in spite of me winning a few international titles. To add on to this, aie was a sportsperson herself and had nationally played khokho so you know there was definitely an extra push from her always.” She stresses.
Due credit in the game
Like your counterparts, P.V. Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and others, you have been in this game for some time now. Do we see girls getting due credit? She says, “Well yes, Saina and Sindhu along with few others have surely changed the badminton scenario in India. Badminton is now treated as the top individual sport in India and it deserves it.
Today, many women sportspersons are coming ahead and doing well at the highest level. Recently, in Olympics, two women got India medals at that game. Earlier sportswomen would play competitive sports up to a certain time say till 10 standards or max until they finished basic education. But now they want to pursue further and excel. Also now a lot of sponsorships are coming in and corporates want to support the sport so all this just helps to pursue sports as a career.
Badminton not a Stigma
Cricket is one game which is known as “the lord of all games”. Everyone wants to be part of it. Nowadays, Badminton is also ruling the chart. As we are saying this, do you think still there is a stigma on playing sport as a hobby and not a profession? “As I said earlier people used to play sport more as a hobby then if they happen to be talented they would take up professionally. But now, various kinds of sports have come up so much in India with lots of opportunities parents want their kids to take up various genres seriously right from the word go, this shows the change .” she asserts.
We talk about woman power these days. How difficult was it earlier to prove one’s mettle in the game as a woman?
“I would say women sportspersons weren’t really taken seriously in earlier times. There used to be gender parity in different ways, be it in prize money or number of competitions etc. They have fought against all odds. Now there is a drastic change as we see women being independent, career-oriented, more confident which in sport’s we can see the way they are coming up and excelling.” said she.
With your expertise in the game, also an analyst now, how did this change happen and why?
She says, “Well now, I am known more as an expert (smiles). I was more known for my game badminton skills, my on-court intelligence, and anticipation. So, guess this happened very naturally to me and made it easier to analyze. I just put these strengths of mine from the past when I am analyzing any game or match. I have covered the Rio Olympics for India for a news channel as an expert and also various other major events for different channels.”
Government is coming up with lots of initiatives and programmes to bring about the change in the system and India. What are the different avenues government is providing to the aspirants in Badminton as we speak? She confirms, “Yes, there is a slight change. But not as much as cricket as we are aware of. A lot of new things are in the fray from the government side and interest in sports initiatives like kheloindia, Olympic task force, TOPs scheme to support elite players etc. Government is also concentrating to work on the grass root level. So we have to now wait and watch as the ideas are there it’s just matter of execution. But definitely, future of sports or sportspersons looks brighter.”
The transition from an ardent player to a coach.
It is a known fact that once a player always a player. But, these days we are seeing a shift in the pattern of a player who is also getting into coaching. Now, you are one of the panelists from Indian badminton coaches, how has been the transition from being an ardent player to becoming a coach and your contribution? She says, “While I was actively playing, I was mentoring a few juniors. So more or less it started from my playing days. Coaching is a big responsibility when I was a player I had to just think or plan things for myself but when you are a coach you have to do that for a team of players with proper planning and precision. Also considering my strengths in badminton skills it gets much easier and having the vast experience of playing for the country at highest level simplifies it further. I hope to bring out the best.” She continues, “I also do video coaching for those players who have the skills and are from a smaller background. I help them understand the game better and style which helps them improvise their game,”
After the sabbatical, it is difficult to get back to the sports you loved all your life and made a career in it. Now that you have a kid also, what prompted you to make a comeback to this sport?
“I always wanted to be connected to sports after my retirement. I always had some ideas and vision during my playing days which I thought would pursue after retirement. My passion and willpower made me come back along with the right support from my family. My main aim was always to work towards the development of sports in general. I am now in the process of doing so. And of course, my focus is on badminton, it being my expertise.
Do you have any plans to bring this sport or other sports in the same league as cricket?
“I think we are already doing well in this game. Badminton is the priority individual sport in India after cricket. We had the best recorded year 2017 with respect to our player’s achievements. In fact recently I read about a survey on most played sport in the world and it’s Badminton. I am proud to be from the badminton fraternity. Also when Sindhu was playing her final for the world championship and at the same time we had our Indian cricket team playing a series, people actually preferred to watch badminton over cricket so this shows the popularity and interest of Indians towards badminton.” She confirms.