Monday, May 20, 2024

Anjum Chopra : Sports help you find the perfect balance of success and failure

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An inspirational name in the sports fraternity, Anjum Chopra, gets candid with The Pioneer about her journey, the changing dynamics of women’s cricket, and more.

Tejal Sinha

It’s all about not doing what everyone else is doing but making your presence count, said the former Indian cricketer and current cricket commentator Anjum Chopra. Well, very much Anjum has made her strong presence not only felt but has been an inspiration to many aspiring sportspersons, dreaming to become a name for themselves in the sport.

Throughout her journey, she has always been actively involved in promoting the sport, be it being the semi-finalist in Fear Factor: Khatron ke Khiladi season 4 or walking the ramp with fashion divas.

Today, we at The Pioneer had the privilege to connect with the amateur, who took us through her sportiest journey, the changing dynamics of the sport for women, and more.

Hailing from a family of sportspeople, right from her maternal grandfather to her father, uncle, and brother With all the encouragement and family support, she’d always wanted to be in the sport. “With the encouragement of family, everything else gets settled, and you get to focus on your studies and sports. It’s been a long journey and it still continues, though not as a player but as somebody who sees the game from the sidelines, so yes, it’s been distant, nice, and a learning experience.”

Ask any successful athlete about the key to their success, and they’re likely to mention discipline. Discipline is, in fact, the cornerstone of success in any sport as well as in other spheres of life, particularly your work. It is beneficial to develop a particular mindset for attaining amazing things. So, does she believe too, adding, “Sports teach various things, especially how to be competitive, a certain amount of discipline, and dedication, especially if your entire day is done in a strict manner? These are small things that go on to define you and everything around you. Sports teach you how to lose, win, celebrate, feel bad, and then try to find that perfect balance. Thereby, you are not carried by success and are not too doomed to failures.”

We’ve always had an icon—someone to always look upon as an inspiration. Did you wonder who has been her inspiration throughout her inspirational journey? Hear what she’s got to say. “To look up to icons, everybody is a legend. They’ve all played the game and done well in their respective years of playing sports. Then there are some really experienced broadcasters. There isn’t anyone for whom I would turn around and say that x is greater than y. Everyone is an accomplished personality from their own generation and from where they are, and that’s why they are and who they are.”

Anjum began her journey as a cricketer at a time when it would have been difficult for any female to think of getting into the sport, which was formerly a male-dominated sport. As we continue our chat with the expert, we get to understand how the dynamics of women’s cricket have changed over the years. “Struggles are very individual, but what I can very much identify is that everything is covered in front of you. Things have changed from the time when people began 30 years ago to when I started and now. As we see, female players are playing more matches, and there is support. People know you; there are household names; they are following your game, and there’s been so much advancement in the game.”

No surprise, the Indian women’s cricket team has been rising. But is there something that’s holding back the women’s cricket team from being number one? Well, she giggles as she says, “Don’t achieve number one by holding onto something and just turning up one fine day to become a world champion. You have to be very good at it. Playing ‘well’ is just four alphabets of play, but it doesn’t come easy. You have to be skilled, good, and very strong mentally and physically in all the departments, and then only you can play well. When you compete with others who play well, you become a world champion. There are various factors that make you walk the path where you can get to the world champion.”

As we discuss women’s cricket, it was a history made this year when the Women’s Premier League 2023 witnessed immense love and support from the cricket lovers. It was surely a heartwarming moment to witness all of it, and being a former cricketer, she says, “No, we could not have expected this because nothing like this had happened before in India. So there were stadiums that were full to watch, but that’s been like a one-off game and not like a tournament where people turned out consistently to watch the women play cricket and watch the game. It was not expected, and so it turned out the way it is growing and growing, and so it was a heartening sign to see so many people come out in large numbers, and that was probably the defining line of where the women’s game is going and has come out.”

Recently, she also introduced a scholarship in order to provide and promote the development of young and talented female cricketers who are otherwise not able to get financial support due to the decline in interest in female cricket. The scholarship will provide financial support of Rs. 1 lakh towards training at the PUSH Sports Arena.

“The players who have been playing the game from 14–15 to 20–22 years of age are who we are looking at, and we encourage young women players, young players rather, to continue to be invested in the sport. So we are not looking at a child who has picked up the bat and said, ‘I want to become this one fine day’. We are looking for someone who has invested their time in this sport and wants to remain invested. I’m just trying to assist them in their perseverance to remain invested in the sport by providing them with this scholarship, which fulfils everything from training, equipment, facilities, personal training, or group training matches. There are days when the academy is closed, but you can come down and have one-on-one sessions, be they fitness- or skill-based. Plus, they also get a stipend. To encourage girls to continue playing the game, and I’m very impressed with the response as well here, when we announced it, there were around 150 applications, and getting them down for all the trials, we selected 4 as of now; we wanted to give out 10 in a year.”

As we come to the end of this informative and inspirational chat, she gushes that in order for one to become a commentator, one doesn’t really have to know the A to Z of the game. However, she says, “It is good to know about the game. One has to practise public speaking. Extracurricular activities and sports really assist in learning. You learn more from practical experience than the ones in books.”

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