All great players are unknown to the world until they make the breakthrough in the international scene through sheer hard work and determination. Of course, talent plays a part as well. But most importantly, a great player takes his chances wherever there are openings – this is what separates the players who ‘make’ it and those who don’t. Sourabh Verma is definitely a player who has taken his chances. He is 21 years of age and has already gained a lot of international exposure; now he is all set to make his mark internationally. A singles player with a clever style of play, his game often confuses his opponents. In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda correspondent Taruka Srivastav, Sourabh spoke about his dreams and career.
Coming from the town of Dhar in Madhya Pradesh, who were your idols?
If there is one person who has always been my inspiration, it is Pullela Gopichand. I consider myself to be very lucky to be training under my childhood idol. He has done a lot for Indian badminton and has been a phenomenal person throughout.
How did you get attracted to badminton?
My father introduced me to this game. Initially, I didn’t like playing it much, but eventually I started liking it.
Does your success show that it is possible for sportspersons coming from small towns to excel in a relatively expensive sport such as badminton?
Yeah, of course it’s possible. In fact, majority of the great players around the world hail from small towns. But the only thing is that badminton is an expensive game and therefore it is difficult for people coming from middle class families to afford such huge expenses. Talent is found in abundance in small towns.
Would you say your small-town upbringing gave you a hunger to excel?
Yes, I think it’s the hunger to prove ourselves in the bigger world which motivates small town players like me. Actually, it also depends from person to person how desperately one wants to achieve something and what he is willing to sacrifice to achieve it.
Do you foresee a rivalry with your brother Sameer?
I don’t think any rivalry will develop between the two of us, but still I would like to win against whoever I play on the court.
You’ve had some good results internationally over the last year. What was your experience of senior international badminton like?
It’s good. I’ve gained a lot of experience. I’ve just matured after meeting a lot of people, watching a lot players in action and travelling the whole world. I have evolved from what I was before and I think it’s all for the good. I am more confident about my game now.
What do you think you need to add to your game to reach the next level?
I’m already capable of doing good in abroad. I think, at the international level, it’s all about how headstrong you are. Everyone has almost the same kind of technique but the one who wins is the one who is mentally well-prepared and stronger.
What has been the most difficult barrier for you to overcome in order to become a professional badminton player?
It has to be self-pressure – the pressure to perform well and not disappoint the people who supported me. The challenging part is getting back up when sometimes you feel mentally down because of the lack of results. As for training, if you have the right mentality and drive, you’ll get used to the gruelling training regime.
With a healthy crop of youngsters in the singles, do you foresee India becoming a top-5 nation in badminton?
Yeah, definitely. We have been doing pretty good already and it’s just a matter of time before we are among the top 5 in the world.