Image Credits: @Zeel Makwana
Zeel Makwana, student from Karnavati University, Gujarat, has been playing all kinds of sports since she was very young, but badminton is her sport of choice.
Many people do not try out for sports as they think of it as a drain on time and energy. Zeel isn’t bothered by this view – if the players are truly committed, they will come, and if they aren’t, they are not needed. In her opinion, balancing academics and her game is not as hard as people make it out to be. The players have the day free for themselves, so there’s no reason to put academics on the backseat. Zeel Makwana, a fan of Saina Nehwal, has been playing badminton since the 7th grade and quickly found out he had a talent for it.
In badminton, she found her perfect sport and says that despite being a dualite and having academic stress, she is not going to part with the game. She is committed to the sport and somehow manages to squeeze it into her schedule. As part of the Karnavati University winner and IITGN runners-up, Zeel, here talks about her journey so far.
At what age did you start playing Badminton? And when did you say: yes, I will dedicate myself to Badminton?
I think I was 8 when I started, never knew how to take it seriously until about studying 7th grade when I felt like that I could do much better, make everyone proud that is when I started taking the sport seriously.
What is your day to day / week to week schedule and responsibilities like?
My schedule majorly consists of my studies as I am pursuing dentistry but I always manage to give at least 2 or 3 hours to badminton to improve my game
Which player you admire at the start, both at the local and the international scene?
I used to play from Palampur city, Himachal Pradesh. I used to see my seniors play badminton during my early days, the bonding and share really driven me to be part of the great sport. My coach is one of the best players and when I was growing up, I admired Saina Nehwal; she is one of my inspiration like a lot of other young players.
Is it important to have a favourite stroke? What was yours then?
It’s not necessarily important to have a favourite stroke as each stroke has its own uniqueness and importance, but net to net cross placing is one of the strokes I use a lot.
Were you good in other sports as well or badminton was just 'it?
I used to play Hockey and Table Tennis from school team. I was fairly good in those sports but badminton had a special place in my heart. So, I continued it rather than those sports.
How sacrificed is it to train and study at the same time?
When I was in school, our school used to get over at 6:00pm and my daily practice used to start from 6:00 o’clock. So, it was really tiring for me to manage these two things simultaneously and do hard practice immediately after the school. My practice used to go on till 9:00 and after that I had to manage the school work.
Who were your coaches during your initial days?
From the start of my carrier I only had one coach and I still practice under him. His name is Rashid Sipahi and during vacations I had a special coach and his name is Samir Abbasi. Rashid sir has always stood by my side through the thick and thin.
What is the best that badminton has given you?
Badminton has given me a lot like fitness and proper health, what other thing it gave me was a bit of fame and main is that my parents proud of me and they always say me that badminton gave me a good turn in my life.
How would you describe your playing style, and which shuttler would you compare it to?
Well, I would describe my game as slow. And normally I prefer rallies over death strokes. I believe in tiring my opponents out.
When the pain and doubts hit, where do you find inspiration?
My parents are my biggest pillar of support they have always been there for me during my good and bad days.
Can you name a few international players, current or retired, who you regard as best or famous for a specific technique or an area of skills?
Viktor Axelsen = agility and reach Tai Zu Ying = deception Carolina marine = reach Lin Din= smashes
Which is your biggest dream?
I always dreamed of playing nationals and it partially came true when I was selected for the nationals.
How does participation in badminton or sports generally benefit other areas of life?
Badminton as a sport in general is really important in life as I think that it helps to train our mind to not get tired to work under pressure. I can feel that I can decide something so quickly, just because we gave to decide where to give the shuttle and how and when within a second. I also think that sports helps in developing concentration power and it also keeps us healthy and fit. I feel like so relaxed whenever I am playing. I can feel that positive energy when I am playing.
What would you be if not a badminton player?
Well, I am pursing my dentistry studies, I must probably be a dentist.
How did you fare at the recently concluded sports fest ‘Concours 2019’ and what all are the big tournaments you and your team expecting to compete well in the year of 2020?
We did pretty well in the concours 2019 organised by DAIIC. We played the finals against IITGN and I played the first singles and I defeated them straight two sets, leading to the first doubles again played by me and Priyanjali – my doubles partner and again we defeated them in straight 2 sets. And in terms of 2020, I am quite optimistic about the tournaments we set to play in and I always try to give my best for myself and for the team.