On the occasion of women’s day, we are celebrating the inspiring women stories from our customers who have overcome the hurdles thrown their way to achieve goals and make a difference with their work. One such amazing story is of Ms.Jyothi Rao or as her students call her, Coach Jyothi Rao, the founder of Airbender sports academy. Read her interview with our team below and get inspired. And don’t forget to share the story with others.
Tell us about your entry into sports?
Well, I was always a sports person and won laurels during my school and college days. My professional stint at playing was cut short due to grave injuries. I was forced to put an end to my career in sports due to this. Sports medicine was not so advanced in India and the word “Surgery” always created a furore of confusion in the minds of people.
But I knew that I had to shut myself away from playing sports at a competitive level. That’s when I ventured into Fashion Designing and worked for 15 years in garments exports division. I worked for various labels and thoroughly enjoyed my “Branded Label Days” .
But I knew in the end, I would eventually want to come back and be associated with sports in a different capacity.
In the year 2012 I made a comeback to sports as a Coach.
What are the challenges faced after your comeback?
I faced many challenges when I returned to the field of sports. Things had of course changed since my playing days and also there was a lot more awareness among the young players with the advent of Youtube videos etc available. So players decided to “coach” themselves. So there was a lot more knowledge available and everyone knew the terms and what they had to do. I felt good that the game had also become more popular and therefore more children were found showing an interest in various sports besides cricket. Parents were also encouraging children in a manner I had not known. Pick up & drops were organised, sports equipment were given importance , sports injuries were handled in better ways.
But with this also came a lot of cons. Players did not give the same importance to coach. There were just players of a sport but no athletes. While, we were taught to be good athletes before playing any sport. Teams were not given importance, players and their skills were. Fundamentals were surpassed and more of game plays were being taught. But without a strong foundation of basics and fundamentals , there were will be no quality players. I faced a lot of challenges. I was also taunted for being a strict disciplinarian who did not allow everyone and anyone to be on the school team. When players reported late for practice, I saw parents coming and telling excuses for being late!
So what kind of preparation went into starting Airbender sports academy?
I decided to first get into the system and observe all the things that need to be changed. I drew a plan which looked impossible even on paper. But I decided to pursue it without dithering from the thorny path that lay ahead.
I first worked on understanding the challenges of the players and their parents.
I decided to adjust my coaching based on the requirements and needs of the students.
And how is your approach towards coaching unique?
I decided to coach more at the grass root level. Nobody wanted to spend more time at grass root level coaching. Even the coaches wanted a ready team. I wanted to develop players, make sure every child gets an opportunity to play.
I classified the students into three groups –
Hobby players – the ones who played for fun to learn a game. Who enrolled during summer vacations and then moved on.
Casual players – Those who enrolled mainly because their friends were there or their parents pushed them into it. They came to play but could never become serious players.
Players – As the name says , these are players ! They are there for the game, for their love of sport and they have the support of their parents to do well in sports and academics.
What is the biggest impact made?
Used sports as a platform to bring in improvement in them holistically. Help the child improve their social skills and also work on their overall development. To help them achieve their goals of going to college on the strength of their sports and not just rely on academic performance.
When parents tell me that their child cries if they miss my classes , it gives me ultimate satisfaction.
What’s your message to anyone who wants to get into sports?
Enjoy, Play , Have fun, Get the basics right, become good athletes and never give up!