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Arif continues doing what he loves

Renowned coach is staying put at Jwala’s academy

At 77, Dronacharya and renowned badminton coach S.M. Arif is defying age and the second wave of the pandemic to do what he loves the most — coach young badminton talent.

Arif makes it a point daily to be with the 50-odd inmates in different age groups from all over India at the Jwala Gutta Academy of Excellence, set up by the former World championship doubles bronze medallist G. Jwala in Moinabad near here.

“It was difficult to move away from my ‘second home’ Fateh Maidan Indoor Stadium where I coached for more than four decades. But, I just couldn’t say no to Jwala because of the kind of effort she has put in to set up this facility which I feel is the best in India. She insisted that I should be at her Academy,” said Arif.

“I just can’t stay away from the badminton court. It gives me so much joy to be with these kids. Honestly, I enjoy every moment out there,” he said.

Since November last year when the Academy became functional, Arif has been staying in the hostel itself to avoid commuting 60kms daily.

“Obviously, we are following all COVID-19 protocols and not allowing anyone from the Academy to go out or let anyone come inside too,” he said. “We stopped training the 20-odd local talent two weeks ago as a precautionary measure,” he added.

“The well-planned residential facility with a bio-bubble in place has ensured the kids enjoy the three training sessions daily,” he said.

What makes Arif continue coaching? “I would say it is sheer passion and the desire to produce champions,” he added.

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