Meet 13-year-old Ganderbal boy, J&K's rising badminton star

Ibrahim bin Ajaz Qureshi, 13, from Ganderbal is the first badminton player from Jammu and Kashmir who has reached 28th rank in 2018 and 32nd in 2017 at all-India level during national badminton competition in under-13 category.

Ibrahim a rising star of badminton in Kashmir now, started his sports journey at the age of seven when his parents took him to watch first ever senior badminton nationals at Indoor Stadium, Srinagar, in which country’s top players like PV Sindhu, P Kashap, Sania Nehwal, Srikanth and other sports celebrities participated.

“Badminton gives me energy and satisfaction. I really worked hard for past six years to reach national level,” says Ibrahim moving the rackets in his hands.

While watching the match in a scintillating environment, Ibrahim was attracted towards badminton. This was the day in 2013, when he started coming to Indoor Stadium, Srinagar almost daily to chase his dream of becoming a badminton player.

Photo: Greater Kashmir

Ibrahim has become the first badminton player from J&K who figured at 32nd rank in 2017 and 28th rank in 2018 during national badminton competition in under-13 category in spite of the fact that no international standard or professional training was given to him.

He is presently U-13 state champion in singles and doubles, and is the first U-14 Khelo India state champion for 2018-19. After winning three state championships in 2018, Ibrahim was nominated by Badminton Association of India for three weeks coaching camp in Padekone-Dravid Sports for Excellence Academy, Bangalore. He is also expecting his selection for an international tour to Indonesia for a training program this year.

Besides his family, Ibrahim is all praise to his senior players and coaches here for their critical analysis and guidance which has shaped his game.

“More than my hard work it is the support of my parents and guidance of my coach Amir Rasool. They have bigger role in my success,” he said.

Ibrahim’s mother left a government job so that she can accompany her son to Indoor Stadium daily after his school hours.

Ibrahim’s family stands with him like a hard rock. His mother left her job and his father is extended him each kind of possible support he can afford. 

“Ibrahim showed passion for badminton at very young age, I and his mother encouraged him. We are happy with his progress so far and we are willing to go to any extent to help him to achieve his goal,” says his father Aijaz ahmad Qureshi.

Despite Ibrahim’s selection for three nationals: SGFI (U-14), BAI (U-15) and Khelo India which were held in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and New Delhi respectively, he decided to give them a miss and attended a coaching camp.  

“I missed the nationals because I was selected by Badminton Association of India for prestigious National Badminton Coaching Camp at Prakash Dravid Sports for excellence at Bangalore and thought it is better to improve my game than to participate in nationals. Because here in Kashmir we lack basic infrastructure, even we don’t have any specified badminton indoor facilities of international standard,” says Ibrahim.

Ibrahim is not satisfied with the facilities and coaching available in Kashmir, he requires, for grooming to become an international champion and carry the routine practice.

“We are far behind other states as for as professional coaching, training schedule, sports environment, and facilities are concerned,” says Ibrahim.

“To excel in any game or sport and to reach at Olympic level, a player needs a lot of hard work, dedication, professionalism and support from the parents. Once a player reaches national level he needs total patronage from government organisations and sponsorships to continue his goal. Here in Kashmir we stand nowhere,” he rues.

Despite performing well in his field Ibrahim argues that there is no monetary support from the State Sports Council. “Recently PM during his visit to the state inaugurated indoor stadium at Ganderbal but it is yet to be made functional,” he says.

Indoor Stadium in Srinagar is a multipurpose stadium. It remains preoccupied for different activities which hampers daily practice of badminton players. Another stadium at Sehpora Ganderbal which was recently inaugurated is yet to open for players due to non availability of basic equipments, he says.

 “No doubt government here is keen to promote sports and sends selected players to take part in national competitions, but most of talented players fail to reach last stage because teams from the state reach to venue same day or just one day before, while as most of the top ranked players reach venue at least a week earlier to acclimatize themselves which in turn help them to perform better in the nationals,” says Ibrahim.

Other states conduct coaching camps for all national teams before leaving to venue but such things don’t happen in J&K regularly, he says.

“I believe after parents, the role of government and its departments have important role to play once a player reaches to the national level,” says Ibrahim

 “As it is very difficult to reach Olympic level without the support of the government, especially youth services and sports department and J&K Sports Council to sponsor a player and provide international standard coaching and facilities. Unfortunately here in Kashmir we see mushroom growth of non-Olympic games which has disappointed those players who strive to become Olympic player,” he adds.

Badminton is a game were a player needs at least four to six hours strenuous training schedule in order to reach international standard but that seems distant dream for Ibrahim without sponsorships.

Recently Ibrahim was approached by Baddyzone- Lining Bangalore to sign two years contract for a sponsorship training programme starting from April 2019. But Ibrahim is reluctant to move and join there as he believes sponsorship programmes should be facilitated here in his home state for all talented players so that they realize their dream without compromising their studies.

Ibrahim shuttles many miles from Ganderbal to and fro with her mother to reach Indoor stadium for practice sessions almost every day.

On way to become a rising sports star, Ibrahim is doing equally well in his studies.  He manages his time well between his studies and sports. A class 8th student, Ibrahim has been recently nominated as house captain in one of the prominent schools of valley, Tyndale Biscoe School. Being among the toppers in the class he has been also elected as monitor in his class.