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Sachin Tendulkar bats for gender parity: Sports for girls is on top of the agenda at his upcoming cricket academy

Tendulkar recently announced the formation of his academy in collaboration with Middlesex.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jul 26, 2018, 12.44 PM IST
A few days ago, Sachin Tendulkar announced the formation of his academy in collaboration with Middlesex.
Sachin Tendulkar’s cricket academy plans have one welcome focus area — sports for girls.

When Sachin Tendulkar was a boy, his coach Ramakant Achrekar would ferry him on his scooter to various Mumbai grounds. Now, Tendulkar will pilot the ship, metaphorically, carrying boys and girls who want to become cricketers.

A few days ago, he announced the formation of his academy in collaboration with Middlesex.

The 45-year-old former Indian captain and World Cup winner has an all encompassing plan for the centre. It will be a place for advanced cricket coaching as well as socialising. Tendulkar also expressly wants to support girls interested in sports and teach trainees human values.

Excerpts from a phone interview with cricket’s highest run-getter:

What prompted you to start an academy?
It was something I always wanted to do. I was waiting for the right time and the right partner. A number of people approached me earlier. But obviously, at the start of this innings, I did not want a tailender at the non-striker’s end. I needed a solid player, and someone I could be on the same page with in terms of what we wanted to achieve. I have spent a long time at Middlesex over the years. They have produced great players for England and have excellent infrastructure. We started this discussion a year ago, and it took us almost 10 months to put things together.


What do you want to achieve with the academy?
We will offer cricket coaching from beginner to elite level, and also aim to be a club like the CCI or Bombay Gymkhana where there will be tennis courts, other sports facilities and a club culture. One of our objectives is to transform a sportswatching country like India into a sports-playing nation. This will be one step towards that. Another focus area is to not just produce good players but good human beings.

The academy is also open to girls. Is this due to the strides made by Indian women’s cricket?
The Indian women’s team has given us many reasons to be proud. But that is not why the program is open to girls. I always felt children should be given enough opportunities, boys as well as girls.

ET's dualpane (10)
On the left is shuttler PV Sindhu, on the right is cricketer Smriti Mandhana.

So gender equality is also an objective?
Hundred-and-ten per cent. Whichever part of the world we go to, we want to encourage both boys and girls.

Why partner with Middlesex and not a centre in India, like the National Cricket Academy?
Then why not MCA or CCI or Shivaji Park, or my first club, Kamath Memorial? There is no end to it. Rather than why not a particular place, I would look at why Middlesex, and which I have explained earlier. Also, in its essence, it’s a global academy, a place without boundaries.

There are quite a few coaching schemes that have a big name attached to them, but they do not produce players or they stop. What will you do to guard against that?
My career has always been about the process and not the result. Here, it’s the same thing. What my heart tells me, I will do that. If the process is followed, the results will invariably follow. The important thing is to be passionate and in love with the sport. It made me what I’m today and it is what I hope to do at the academy. Hindi mein kahun to, cricket dil se hona chahiye, dimaag se nahi. Dimaag is required later, when you have to figure out how to score runs against what bowler in what phase of the game. When your heart is in it, you are prepared to work any number of hours. You never look at your watch.

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Who is funding the academy? There is speculation that the Mittals (of ArcelorMittal) have also backed this.
I wouldn’t want to get into that right now. When the time is appropriate, we will keep you posted.

What were you particular about including in the curriculum?
A number of things, some of which I learned from Achrekar sir. To single them out will be difficult. It’s not just cricketing skills but also the emotional side, the fine motor skills, at what age you focus on what areas, counselling parents. Ten children will respond to the same situation in 10 different ways. Someone thrives under pressure, someone doesn’t. Accordingly, we will tell the parents that this is the nature of your child, and that if you handle him or her properly, positive changes will start coming in gradually.

I have seen a number of cricketers develop at different stages in life. You don’t always have to be a prodigy. There are guys who developed post 20-22 and became superstars. Someone just needs to figure out what is happening and give them a direction in their career, and that is the academy’s job. To tell them, ‘This is where you were 24 months ago; these are the changes that have taken place and this is where you are now.’

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Will trainees get face time with you?
My inputs have mainly been in the curriculum. I will attend the camps whenever possible. I have always enjoyed sharing knowledge. Even when there was no designation or an official role, I worked with youngsters.

What about the underprivileged students who cannot afford to pay for the academy?
With talent identification at the core of academy, we will provide opportunities for talented underprivileged children with 100 per cent scholarship.

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What’s the best advice you received for life on and off the field?
On the field, the most profound advice I received was from Achrekar sir. He had told me, “One can never be bigger than the game.”

Off the field, my father gave me an advice which I continue to follow. He said everything in life is temporary. He asked me to focus on being a nice person first and then do whatever else I wanted to do from a career perspective.

Every day of my life, I have followed that advice from my dad and have tried to become a better person than I was yesterday.

Would it be better for the academy to have a specific target group? For example, the MRF Pace Foundation had the singular goal of developing fast bowlers. The Australian Cricket Academy was aimed at elite level players.
At MCCC (Middlesex County Cricket Club), there is proven expertise to add value to various tiers of cricketers from an age and skill level point of view. So, we have extended that. We can add value to a beginner, to a child who has already got initiated to the sport or to someone who has progressed and needs higher order of training.

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