August 14, 2015
Former Olympic tennis star Nirupama Vaidyanathan has said that unless and until India treated sport as a profession like cricket, there was only a remote possibility of India becoming a global leader in the sports sector.
Speaking at a session organised by local chapter of Indian Women Network of Confederation of Indian Industry, here on Friday, she lamented that other sports were not given the recognition that was given to cricket.
Elaborating on the politics that existed in cricket, she took the example of her father, K. S. Vaidyanathan, a former Ranji player. Since he was from Coimbatore district, he was sidelined by the Madras lobby. This made her decide not to make her brother play cricket, but tennis.
However, she said that some sports, like kabaddi and basket ball, were definitely blossoming in the country of late. She urged federations and associations to play a major role in uplifting the sports.
Dwelling on her long career in tennis, which included representing the country in Olympics, Nirupama said that the All India Tennis Association (AITA) was doing nothing though there was so much potential in the game.
“AITA is doing nothing for the improvement of tennis. We need leaders to take the sports to the highest peak,” she added.
To a question on starting a tennis academy in India, Nirupama, who is running one in California, said that she was seriously contemplating to do something.
“I want to do something for Tamil Nadu and Coimbatore in particular. I will definitely start something. It is in my mind.”
When asked by a student how she felt about present condition of tennis, Nirupama said: “We did not know money existed in sport. We did not play for money, but we played sport because we like it. I was surprised when I got Rs.950 for a game,” she recollected her experiences.
Talking on ‘The Role of Parents in Sports’, Nirupama gave some pointers to parents on grooming children to take up sports. “Playing a sport is very tricky and challenging, with so many issues, including cultural ones, particularly in South India, as being faced by ace Tennis player, Sania Mirza”.