“Sundays with Purav” is a 11 part series in collaboration with our very own, Purav Raja. Through his first hand experience of competing on the ATP Tour, Purav aims to educate Indian tennis parents, fans, and community, in general, about what our country needs to do to be called a sporting nation.”

Recently, a lot of people in India want to know how to become a professional sportsman and I honestly do not have the answer to this question. However, if there’s one thing I would honestly change about my childhood, I would have made the athlete Purav Raja before I start making the tennis player.

If we look at world sport today, the only thing that has become substantially tougher is the level of athleticism. Sportsmen are much Taller, Faster, Fitter, Stronger than you can ever imagine. Every single sport has human specimens and no matter if it’s Novak or Lebron – they are absolutely phenomenal athletes for what they set out to do. So basically NO, it does not really matter which academy you go to as long by the time you are a teenager you produce a human specimen.

India is too worried about getting the right academy and the right hitting partners and good coaches. This is great and I appreciate all that you all are doing for your loved ones and children. However, all I would try to focus on is the enjoyment of the child’s sporting life, whilst making him into a heck of an athlete in his formative years.

Once we’ve achieved this – they might start slow but it shouldn’t take long to acquire skill levels required for any sport and the child will go far ahead once physicality becomes a factor. In my experience, junior honors in any sport are a little skewed and very often the kids who win junior Wimbledon and junior PGA masters tournaments very rarely achieve the same success in men’s and women’s sport. In tennis at least there were only two male players to win junior Wimbledon and Men’s Wimbledon singles in its entire centenary history. (Edberg 1983, Federer 1998)

As this is about India, my way forward would be to make our ‘sports’ days in primary and middle school a LOT more serious and incorporate swimming/cycling as a mandatory activity for every child in English/Hindi medium schools. It often baffles me how less than 30 percent of my age group know how to swim even until today. Cycling is also almost a non-existent part of our lives. This goes to show a lack of access to the number of public swimming pools/cycle parks all over India, along with a very poor cardiovascular culture towards physical sports.

In time, I would love to see all inter-school and college sport be taken very seriously. A lot of prestige and honor should be given to children at that age so that we can build that competitor and athlete from the first day they step into school until the day they graduate. I think the USA prides itself on their high school and college sport and it would be an absolute dream for me to see India even close to them on that front. Being a Sportsman to me is 99 percent attitude and 1 percent luck. That attitude of a competitor and a hard-working individual, striving to be the best every single day since you are a toddler -I believe will be the gold medals of tomorrow.

Let’s do our bit to make the youth of India athletic and active especially at the grassroots level. I don’t think there will be any medals for winning candy crush in the near future. 😉

Impossible is nothing, thank you for your time

Until next week,

Purav Raja

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