Anura Prabhu Desai has already been featured in various local and national media and she hardly requires any introduction. She is a well-known Badminton player in India. This 19-year-old shuttler stands at No. 1 in India in women’s singles and doubles by collecting 2882 points in the singles, and 1804 points in the doubles category. It is a very big achievement for Anura at this tender age. Born and brought up in Ponda, a small town in Goa, Anura’s dream is to break into the top 100 rankings in the world. Her determination and hard work will take her towards undoubtedly. After going through her profile I had decided to meet this dynamic and humble young girl to find out about her effort and dreams that she carries with her to the ladder of success.
Anura’s badminton journey begun at the age of 6 when a coach from Ponda spotted her and asked her parents to enrol her in badminton classes. “I still remember that when I was six years old, I used to accompany my elder sister to badminton practise at her school. One day I went for her badminton tournament, at that time my sister was in 6th. There I met my future coach who told my parents that I should join the class and it was the correct age to join sports. Therefore, I joined badminton classes, however, my sister left since she wanted to concentrate more on her studies.”
Everyone is destined to do what he or she is doing today but, of course not without the handwork and dedication. For Anura, the opportunity came knocking on her door when she was just 6 and maybe at that time she was not even aware that she will become number 1 player in India. The coach’s sharp sense is commendable for spotting potential in her and starting to train her. Time passed and Anura kept climbing the steps of training, “I received my first award in 2006 when I was just 8 years old. It was a state-level tournament and later on, I received my second award on a national level in the year 2008 when I was 10 years old,” said Anura.
The award which Anura had received at the national level badminton tournament was in the doubles category, and she reached up to the semi-finals, which was a very big achievement. “The award and medal gave me all the encouragement and I realized that I can go higher in this field,” she added.
Anura’s achievements became milestones on the way of her success, and that too contributed to increase her confidence. Another thing I want to share with you here is, while continuing her sports activities, Anura did not neglect her studies at all. She was equally good in studies as was in sports.
“I give all the credits to my parents and my sister, who have been my strongest support system throughout the journey. When I was in my SSC I received a call from Prakash Padukone Academy in Bangalore. (Prakash Padukone, a star badminton player who now runs an academy in Bangalore) When I got the call, I was completely confused as what to do, it was very tough decision to make at that time but, my parents stood by my side and told me to go ahead with it,” she narrated.
Anura’s parents gave her a green signal to make her career in this field and they assured her that they will support her for the same. “My sister helped me with maths and science and I got to study only for one month before the examination as I had been a part of many tournaments. But with the help of my parents and my sister and the blessings of God, I managed to score 83% in SSC,” she said with a grin. At the time of her SSC, she had to spend a lot of time at the academy and could only manage to study for a short period of time.
It was not an easy task at all as she was under heavy pressure of scoring at the tournament and in exams too. But her strong willpower and hard work paved the way for success very smoothly. After completing her SSC, Anura decided to play sports full-time and shifted to the White Peacock Academy in Bangalore from Prakash Padukone Academy.
There aren’t many competent academies in Goa to handle sports at a higher level, and that is why sportspersons have to go elsewhere to gain a higher level of training. The same thing happened with Anura, she could not continue in Goa for long as there were no facilities and support from the local Government to help her pursue her career in the badminton and she had to spend her own money to be in Bangalore and undergo the training.
Anura is a contract player for AAI and she is a brand ambassador for the Geno Pharma company, and some part of financial support comes from these entities, but the question still remains unanswered as to why there is no support for our national and international level players from the State Government, I hope this article is read by any of the concerned authorities who will surely do something for players who are struggling to come up.
Today, Anura is a top player in India. “I am currently India’s no 1 in senior category player in the singles and well as doubles. Internationally my rank is 117 in women’s singles,” she said adding that when she played under 19, her world ranking was 23 in women’s singles junior category. According to Anura, initially, she was competing for the junior category and hence her ranking went higher in the world but now she is concentrating more on the senior raking and this time her target is to come within 100 in singles in the senior category in the world. Anura has also played the Denmark Super Series Premier. Studies are just as important as the sports to Anura and she is continuing her further studies until she completes her graduation.
“I had done my 12th in commerce and for graduation, I have decided to take up Arts as now my priorities are changing and are more inclined towards badminton, and that is why I have decided to continue my studies with the help of the open school. I did my 12th through open school and now I have shifted to IGNOU to complete my graduation in Arts,” she averred.
Presently Anura is a contract player for AAI and has also played for Air India, besides having the position of a brand ambassador of Geno Pharma in her achievements. Her current goal is to break in the top 100 in the senior’s category in the world and according to her, she is going to achieve that by the beginning of January. “I will achieve my target before the new year and then I will target the top 50, ultimately, my goal is to play for the Olympics,” she said with full confidence. Presently, sponsorship from India is available only for top-notch players as they cannot sponsor everyone.
“As far as I am concerned, I am playing well at the moment, and I do not seek any support from the government at this stage. I have decided that I will work hard to reach the top. There are many players playing tournaments and if you have the good ranking you get the opportunity to reach the top,” said Anura. According to her, once she achieves her target of reaching the top 50 in the world she will start receiving all the benefits from the Indian Government.
When I asked her what message she wants to give to aspiring players in Goa she said, “As far as the sports enthusiasts in Goa is concerned, I would like to say that they can play any sport they like and there should not be any kind of pressure from anybody. Parents have to support their children’s’ dreams. The only mantra to win the game is – work hard,” Anura is presently preparing for the USA Badminton Challenge where she is ranked at 7th, and I on behalf of the entire team of Incredible Goa would like to wish her a grand success in all her endeavours.