What do you think of the introduction of a country-specific badminton league that also has international players from the country?
I firmly believe that more domestic leagues is the only way to bring the sport to many more people. We’ve seen what IPL has done to cricket and what PBL has done to badminton, although it’s only recently there. We’ve seen players improve after playing the leagues and I’m an example of that too. Having a league that’s just one state focused and helping its players is fabulous. Bengaluru has seen many good players starting with Prakash Padukone sir. So we have potential and this league will help such players financially and with experience and notoriety.
They led the team to historic Thomas Cup victory. Has it sunk yet?
I am very happy after winning the Thomas Cup. We all know badminton as an individual sport. I don’t think anyone dreamed that India would ever win a Thomas Cup title, except maybe the 10 players, our coaching staff, our parents and families. This win shows that we have the potential. We have to be consistent and know how to win games. For me it is a great feeling and a privilege to be the captain of the team that won the country’s first Thomas Cup. Everyone played their best badminton and it was a long tournament lasting 10 days.
The win is compared to the 1983 World Cup win in cricket. What are your hopes for the sport from this win?
Even before the 1983 World Cup victory, not many thought that India could win the title. But they won and a lot has changed for cricket since then. I’m confident that when things can change a bit for badminton and we get a lot more support from the corporate side, more parents will be interested in sending their kids to play badminton. There will be more children interested in taking up the sport professionally. The more people play this sport, the better it gets. The quality automatically improves and big wins like the Thomas Cup help the sport grow.
Did you find time to party?
We had some time after the tournament, but we weren’t in the country. But we still tried to celebrate as best as we could since we were together. Upon our return, we were invited to a meeting with our dear Prime Minister. We all started training at the academy, so basically we enjoy winning when we train together. It will take a while for profit to sink in.
Next up are the Commonwealth Games. What are your goals?
We won the team event at the Commonwealth Games last time for the first time ever. I was part of the team and was able to contribute to winning the final. I would really like to do it again this time. Individually I had won silver last time, so I would definitely want to go one step further and win gold.
Have you ever thought about how you want to give something back to the sport in the long term?
At the moment I’m just concentrating on my playing career. But there are still many things I really want to do after I retire. At the moment I would like to play at least another six or seven years, that’s my focus. If I can win more tournaments and those wins can inspire, say at least 10 or 20 kids, then it gives something back to the sport too. The Andhra Pradesh government gave me land to set up an academy. With the right investors and people, I will definitely start this academy. If I can produce at least one world champion, I’ll be very happy.
We’ve seen the 1983 victory come to life in cinemas. Have you thought about who would be the right one to play you or even narrate the Thomas Cup win on screen?
I’m a very Telugu guy. I would really love it if one of the Telugu directors like SS Rajamouli directed a film about our victory. At the moment all our Telugu films are pan-Indian too. If someone like him directed it, I would let him do the casting.
Kidambi’s social media mantra
Everyone knows my personality and attitude when I play games on the pitch. I would therefore like to post things that correspond to my personality. I just think it’s real.