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Anirban Lahiri – It’s all a Mind Game

Investment Outlook , Published Feb 17, 2019

Anirban Lahiri

Anirban Lahiri

Indian Professional Golfer.

‘I-can’ attitude and good mentorship could make a marked difference in the Indian sports arena

Overview

The positive momentum that Indian sports have gained over the past few years is expected to reach a crescendo with the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. A change in our attitude from thinking “I’m not good enough” to “I’m going to get good enough” is what is needed.

Over the last couple of years various categories of sports have emerged in India. The coming of age of Badminton, Kabaddi, Soccer and Hockey can be gauged from the popularity of the recently launched leagues. Athletes in our country operate within the limited gamut of infrastructure. Yet, they managed great performances at the Asian Games, especially in athletics, which is truly heartwarming. On the Golf front, Shubhankar Sharma’s brilliant rally coupled with wins by veterans like Rahil Gangjee, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Khalin Joshi have kept the international trophy count ticking. Incrementally, Aditi Ashok and I have kept the tricolor flying out in the West as well as in the LPGA and PGA tour respectively.

Well begun

The positive momentum that Indian sports have gained over the past few years is expected to reach a crescendo with the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. A welcome change is about taking cognisance of the ‘elephant in the room’ – the emerging categories of sports that till recently were given a short-shrift as opposed to mainstream sports and cricket. We are now moving in the right direction and probably at a better pace than ever before. The Khelo India campaign is now creating the right buzz that is a prerequisite to overcome our Rio (2016) disappointment.

The positive momentum that Indian sports have gained over the past few years is expected to reach a crescendo with the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Getting there

India boasts of some of the best entrepreneurs and intellectuals in the world. This is something that has come to be expected out of us, globally. However, we expect ourselves to push limits and challenge norms in every other field, barring sports. This mindset has to change.

Reaching a higher level in sports is a seamless process of growth and learning. I went through a remarkable volte face when I was told by Jeev Milkha Singh and Arjun Atwal that I could compete and contend with the best on the PGA. Their faith and confidence in me bolstered my self-belief that I could play at the PGA level. Subsequently, I altered my training, schedule, equipment and technique to suit the conditions on the PGA tour. In a nutshell, my mindset went from one that limited my outlook for the European Tour, to one that didn’t set any boundaries. Last year, Shubhankar Sharma went through a similar mindset transformation and he is now knocking at the PGA’s door.

I truly believe that a change in our attitude from thinking “I’m not good enough” to “I’m going to get good enough” is what is required. It, of course, needs to be supplemented with good coaching and mentorship, exposure and playing conditions to achieve the goal.

In order to become a sporting nation, we have to begin with the belief that we are one.

Creating Superstars

We have a billion strong pool of talent including some highly skilled athletes, waiting to be harnessed. Unfortunately, every major sporting achievement (of the non-cricketing nature) comes as a shock or surprise to the nation. In order to become a sporting nation, we have to begin with the belief that we are one. The attitude has to change from the grassroots, upwards. Infrastructure, professionalism within our sporting bodies/associations and corporate support are lacking in the current environment that will be essential in creating sports personas and eventually, superstars. Ultimately, it is the heroes of a sport that will propel the game forward. We need to nurture our existing pioneers and create new generations that surpass them.

Anirban Lahiri

Stepping stone

In sports, every step involves practice, preparation and competition; you get thrown into situations that make demands on you. Ability of an athlete to perform in a stressful situation – be it emotional, physical, mental or all of them combined- separate the men from the boys. He or she needs to be responsive rather than reactive by assessing situations and outcomes with empathy and dispassion.

Moreover, failing is a vital aspect for growth. We learn more from unsuccessful attempts than the triumphant ones. Failure is the best preparation for life and in turn, builds a society of individuals who have the necessary life skills to become the torchbearers for the nation’s progress.

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