Asian Games 2018: Across the border, Pakistan shuttlers have no facilities

Aug 26, 2018, 07:45 IST | Ashwin Ferro

Badminton is among the least cared for sport in Pakistan, unlike in India, where it is a priority and highly popular

Asian Games 2018: Across the border, Pakistan shuttlers have no facilities
Pakistan shuttlers Mahoor Shahzad (left) and Sehra Akram in Jakarta yesterday. Pic/Ashwin Ferro

Mahoor Shahzad and Sehra Akram calmly walked away from the badminton court, conspicuous by their trackpants, after their 3-21, 6-21 thrashing at the hands of Korea's Sohee Lee and Seungchan Shin in the women's doubles first round here. A day earlier, they were humbled in their respective first rounds of the women's singles too. Both girls are singles players, but formed a doubles team just to make up the numbers.

Badminton is among the least cared for sport in Pakistan, unlike in India, where it is a priority and highly popular. "We do not have a single academy back home. We don't even have a shuttlecock machine which is one of the most important and common pieces of equipment in badminton training," Karachi resident Mahoor, 21, Pakistan's women's singles national champion, tells mid-day.

"Just before these Asian Games, we tried to come to India to train at the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad or the Prakash Padukone Academy in Bangalore, but we were denied visas by the Indian government," says Islamabad resident Sehra, 22, the No. 2 singles player in Pakistan.

Both girls idolise India's top shuttlers Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu, but also fear them, given their super star status in the sport. "The other day, we saw Saina and Sindhu at the dining hall in the Athletes Village, but we were apprehensive about approaching them. We were scared because they are such big stars. What if they refuse us? But we do hope Indian badminton can help the sport grow in Pakistan somehow," said Mahoor, as she smiled and slowly walked away with her partner.

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