Neal Maupay is set to join Nottingham Forest for a fee £15m
(Football news) Nottingham Forest are in advanced talks with Brighton to bring striker Neal Maupay to the City Ground to make him the club's 12th signing of the summer. According to reports today, the Reds are keen to bring Maupay to the club and have agreed a fee for the striker. It’s believed somewhere around the £15m mark might be enough for Forest to tempt the Seagulls into their french striker
However, there are no personal terms agreed with Forest and Maupay as the striker arrived at the AMEX from Brentford for around £20m three seasons ago and has had a mixed time with Brighton since his arrival. Forest, meanwhile, are causing quite the stir in the transfer market this summer as they have added more than ten players to their squad and have spent over £100m, including taking on big wages for the likes of Jesse Lingard and Dean Henderson on short term deals. Steve Cooper spoke this weekend of the club’s transfer strategy and insisted that it’s been considered and reinforcements were needed.
The good thing about Neal Maupay is that he has ample Premier League experience at the top of the pitch. Forest will need to score goals if they are to stay up and while Taiwo Awoniyi is a young striker who did ok this weekend but the Reds will need more options upfront. Maupay has produced some very good performances for Brighton and while there has been inconsistencies, he will be more than welcomed at the City Ground. Forest are really going all out for it this summer and it’s quite admirable. Cooper’s job will be to get these players playing as a unit.
Everton are going to re-sign Idrissa Gana Gueye from PSG
(Football news) Everton should be able to wrap up the signing of midfielder Idrissa Gueye from Paris Saint-Germain in the next 48 hours, according to reports. The Toffees have been working on the transfer for quite some time despite PSG wanting to offload him. It was suggested that Gueye was having second thoughts over returning to Everton, who he left in 2019, however he appears to have been convinced by Frank Lampard’s vision.
Issues between the player and PSG played a part in slowing down the deal, but Everton expect Gueye to add to Frank Lampard’s midfield options. That would mean the midfielder would be available for selection on Saturday when Everton face Nottingham Forest at Goodison Park. Everton have not won any of their opening two league fixtures and the pressure will be on for them to win their first match against the Tricky Trees. Gueye has not been part of PSG’s matchday squads for their first two Ligue 1 games this season against Clermont Foot and Montpellier.
Sporting advisor Luis Campos is looking to reshape the midfield group as Marco Verratti and Danilo Pereira are the only two players that will remain as PSG will potentially have three new arrivals to the midfield group. Meanwhile, Georginio Wijnaldum, Ander Herrera, Idrissa Gueye, and Leandro Paredes are all leaving the club before the summer window closes on Sept. 1. This reunion has been long in the making and the Senegal international will surely be ready to get back into the starting XI once again after his time in France.
Despite not playing many games for PSG last season, Gueye raked in a lot of silverware and will now be set for a new challenge of dragging the Toffees out of this slump in form. Amadou Onana performed well on his debut compared to others in midfield while playing against Aston Villa and with Gueye alongside him in the defensive role, he could really push up into the attacking third. Gueye’s arrival means that the likes of Tom Davies, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure will be in reserve, with Alex Iwobi also potentially set for a new role despite playing brilliantly in a midfield two against Villa. Time will tell but that midfield area is now looking more stacked than ever, and it could mean that some Everton players will depart.
Ireland Men announce new ICC Future Tours Programme
(Cricket news) The International Cricket Council today released a new four-year Future Tours Programme (FTP) for the men’s game which will see Ireland Men play 113 matches against Full Members between May 2023 and April 2027.
In an action-packed start to the new year, Ireland Men start 2023 with tours of Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as part of the current 2019-2023 FTP, before the new 2023-2027 FTP begins in May.
The announcement of the new FTP, a result of a collective effort of Full Members with ICC’s support, ensures certainty of cricket fixtures with the confirmation of all bilateral series across the three formats. The exact dates of the series are for the Members to announce in due course.
The announcement of the new Men’s FTP comes a day after the first ever Women’s FTP was announced.
OVERVIEW OF FTP 2023-2027
Ireland starts the new FTP with a home white-ball series against Bangladesh, then immediately travel to England for a one-off Test match in June 2023.
Ireland will also tour England for three ODIs before taking on Zimbabwe for one Test, three ODIs and three T20Is later in the year. January 2024 will then see Ireland play Afghanistan away for one Test, three ODIs and three T20Is, one of their four series against the Asian team during the five-year cycle.
Ireland, who gained Test status along with Afghanistan in 2017, will also play Tests against New Zealand and Zimbabwe at home, while their other limited overs fixtures include those against Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, England, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
In all, Ireland Men are set to play 12 Test matches, 54 one-day internationals and 47 T20 Internationals against fellow Full Member sides. The programme outlined does not include the fixtures against Associate Members, of which will be announced in due course. The FTP fixtures are all outside of further international matches to be played as part of ICC events – the first such ICC event may be the Cricket World Cup Qualifier in June-July 2023 (if Ireland doesn’t automatically qualify through the World Cup Super League).
IRELAND MEN’S PLAYING SCHEDULE 2023-2027
Remaining fixtures under the 2018-2023 FTP:
January 2023: Zimbabwe v Ireland Men in Zimbabwe (3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
March 2023: Bangladesh v Ireland Men in Bangladesh (1 Test, 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
April 2023: Sri Lanka v Ireland Men in Sri Lanka (1 Test)
Ireland Men’s playing schedule under the new 2023-2027 FTP:
May 2023: Ireland Men v Bangladesh in Ireland (3 ODIs, 4 T20Is)
May 2023: England v Ireland Men in England (1 Test)
September 2023: England v Ireland Men in England (3 ODIs)
November 2023: Zimbabwe v Ireland Men in Zimbabwe (1 Test, 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
January 2024: Afghanistan v Ireland Men in India (1 Test, 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
May 2024: Ireland Men v Pakistan in Ireland (3 T20Is)
July 2024: Ireland Men v South Africa in Ireland (3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
August 2024: Ireland Men v Zimbabwe in Ireland (1 Test, 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
September 2024: Ireland Men v Australia in Ireland (3 ODIs, 1 T20I)
January 2025: Zimbabwe v Ireland Men in India (2 Tests, 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
June 2025: Ireland Men v West Indies in Ireland (3 ODIs)
June 2025: Ireland Men v England in Ireland (3 ODIs)
July 2025: Ireland Men v Afghanistan in Ireland (1 Test, 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
September 2025: Pakistan v Ireland Men in Pakistan (3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
October 2025: Sri Lanka v Ireland Men in Sri Lanka (3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
November 2025: Bangladesh v Ireland Men in Bangladesh (2 Tests, 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
May 2026: Ireland Men v New Zealand in Ireland (1 Test)
July 2026: Ireland Men v South Africa in Ireland (3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
August 2026: Ireland Men v Bangladesh in Ireland (3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
August 2026: Ireland Men v Afghanistan in Ireland (1 Test, 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
March 2027: Afghanistan v Ireland Men in India (1 Test, 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)
Warren Deutrom, Chief Executive of Cricket Ireland, said: “The release of the new ICC Future Tours Programme marks yet another milestone in the progress Irish cricket has made over recent years. The quality and the volume of international cricket for Irish fans to enjoy is something previous generations only dreamt about.
“Starting with Bangladesh at home, then heading straight to a Test match against England is a mouth-watering start to the new programme – and all of that following three tours during the early months of the year.
“During the period 2023-2027, Ireland Men will play matches against all 11 of the other Full Member sides, in 113 fixtures scheduled outside of ICC tournaments. Pleasingly, this will also include 12 Test matches – a format we as a country are keen to pursue more over coming years, whilst understanding that qualification for world cups remains a key priority.
“It’s also important to note that the FTP announced today does not include bilateral fixtures against Associate nations, which will also be added to Ireland Men’s playing schedule over coming years.
“The ability, as a Full member, to be able to lock in multiple years’ worth of bilateral cricket is important for Cricket Ireland, as it allows us to plan ahead and pursue revenue streams with a greater level of certainty. This revenue, from areas such as broadcast and sponsorship, goes back into the game at all levels, helping us to deliver on growing the game across Ireland.
“This men’s FTP, combined with the women’s FTP announced yesterday, means we have an incredibly busy few years ahead for Irish cricket fans to enjoy.”
Also read: India gear up for 1st ODI against Zimbabwe at Harare
Is Casemiro to Manchester United a real possibility?
(Football news) Manchester United's search for a midfielder is not going too well. According to reports the deal with Adrien Rabiot has collapsed while the progression of the Frenkie De Jong deal is extremely slow. Spanish reports now claim that Manchester United representatives are currently in Madrid to negotiate for Joao Felix and Casemiro. United are being linked with a lot of players after their terrible start to the season but Casemiro is definitely the one that has caught the eye of the football world and rightly so. United are reportedly considering a £50m bid for the Brazilian.
£50m for Casemiro will be a very good deal for Manchester United. Casemiro has been one of the best defensive midfielders in the world for the past 6 years. He has been a key part of the Real Madrid side that has won 4 Champions League in the last 7 years. He just won the MVP award for his performance in the UEFA Super Cup final and has also been nominated for the Ballon D'or. He is an absolute stalwart and will significantly improve Manchester United. He suits them perfectly as he will sit in front of the defence and run his lungs out for every single game. He is also capable of getting the odd goal with his aerial ability and forward runs. The Brazilian will also bring his winning mentality and fight at the club.
From Casemiro's perspective, Manchester United is a very risky move but if he does go on and become a success at United then his career will take off to another level. The midfielder could be in search of a new challenge at the age of 30 which will be completely different. At Real Madrid the demands are higher than any other club. Casemiro is surrounded by quality players and his challenge is to keep up with them and add something to their game. At Manchester United he will be a leader and potentially the best player in their side who will have the pressure of expectations on him. The big red flag for the move is what happened to Raphael Varane. He was considered one of the best defenders in the world at Real Madrid and now he is getting benched by a 5’9’' centre back Lisandro Martinez. The fear and risk will always be there before agreeing to join United.
From Manchester United's point of view the deal will be worth it even if it goes up to £70m . They desperately need a player of Casemiro's calibre. United's first choice was Frenkie De Jong who is definitely not on Casemiro's level but his young age is what might have given him the edge. By the looks of things Casemiro looks to be a plan B after the failure to sign Rabiot. Which brings up the question of why wasn't Casemiro the priority in the first place. Something is clearly not right in Manchester United's transfer system which has led to their downfall. Casemiro's signing could potentially be game changing for Manchester United and it would be like signing a 20-goal per season striker.
Real Madrid's point of view is something very interesting in this scenario. If Casemiro demands to leave then Real Madrid will most definitely not stand in his way just like they let Varane leave. From an outside perspective Real Madrid should never consider selling Casemiro because he is one of the best players in the world who has just had an incredible last season and started the new season with a MVP performance in the UEFA Super Cup final against Frankfurt. But Real Madrid have done it in the past and it has more or less worked in their favour. Real Madrid sold Mesut Ozil, Angel Di Maria, Danilo, Sergio Reguilon and Achraf Hakimi for a lot of money. All 5 of them had good seasons before being sold and none of them wanted to leave.
Real Madrid signed Gareth Bale to replace Ozil and James Rodriguez to replace Di Maria. The replacements for Danilo, Reguilon and Hakimi came for cheaper than the trio were sold for. Real Madrid may be thinking that this is the best time to cash out on Casemiro. The Los Blancos have just signed Aurélien Tchouaméni while Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde are already settled into the team. Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are in the final year of their contract which means next season could be a total rebuild. The midfield trio of Kroos, Casemiro and Modric has been one of the greatest of all time but Los Blancos will have to move on sooner rather than later.
Also read: Barcelona draw while Real Madrid and Atlético win on opening weekend
Men's FTP '23-'27: India to play 38 Tests, 39 ODIs, 61 T20Is in next cycle, no series vs Pakistan
New Delhi, Aug 17 (Cricket News) The Indian men's team will be playing a whopping 138 bilateral international matches during the next five-year Future Tours & Programme (FTP) Cycle between May, 2023 to April, 2027, the ICC said on Wednesday.
Most sought-after team commercially, the 'Men In Blue' will play 38 Tests, 39 ODIs and 61 T20Is in the five-year period and focus on shortest format is an indicator how priorities across formats will be changing.
The ODI bilaterals will remain but mostly be three-match series.
India expectedly has a choc-a-bloc calender but as usual there won't be any bilateral cricket series with Pakistan due to obvious political reasons.
The 12 Members will play a total of 777 international matches – 173 Tests, 281 ODIs and 323 T20Is – in the 2023-2027 FTP cycle compared to the 694 in the current one.
This includes the next two cycles of the ICC Men's World Test Championship, multiple ICC events and a host of bilateral as well as tri-series action.
As far as India's schedule is concerned, the traditional India versus Australia Test series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, that used to be a four-match affair for a long time will become five-Test series.
India will be playing five-Test series against both England and Australia and also on the T20 front, there are a lot of five-match series which is on expected lines with the broadcasters demand with premium advertisement rates for short-form matches.
During the next FTP cycle, India would be travelling to West Indies (July-Aug 2023) for a full tri-format series including 2 Tests, ODIs and 3 T20Is.
The marquee five-Test home series against England will be tentatively held between Jan-March in 2024.
While Australia is visiting India early next year to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in a four-Test series as a part of previous cycle, India's next big trip Down Under is in December-January, 2024-25 when they play Australia in a five-Test series for the first time since 1991.
In this cycle, India will host Bangladesh for a two-Test series in September 2024.
India to get 27 ODIs before '23 ODI WC starting with Zimbabwe series ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Indian team will play 27 ODI games before it plays the 2023 50-over World Cup in India scheduled in October-November next year.
The 27 ODIs starts with India's series against Zimbabwe in Harare from Thursday. The chunk among the 27 ODIs is from the previous FTP cycle which also include home three-match series against South Africa and an away three-match event against New Zealand just after T20 World Cup.
Australia and England to play 40 and 43 Tests respectively ---------------------------------------------------------------- Australia and England during the same five-year phase will be playing 40 and 43 test matches respectively, which is a few games more than India.
The inaugural World Test Champions New Zealand in the next cycle have 32 Tests earmarked, while South Africa in the same duration play only 29 Tests. They mostly play two and some three-Test series.
Pakistan have only 27 Tests between May, '23-April '27 while Sri Lanka and West Indies play 25 longest format games each respectively.
Also Read : 1st ODI: All eyes on skipper KL Rahul as India get ready to steamroll Zimbabwe
News Source : PTI
Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters sign Bidyashagar Singh
(Football news) Kerala Blasters has announced the signing of striker Bidyashagar Singh on loan from Bengaluru FC until May 2023. The 24 year old is a product of the Tiddim Road Athletic Union FC academy and began his career with East Bengal FC in 2016. He took the Kolkata side's U18 team to the finals of the 2016-17 U18 I-League, scoring 6 goals along the way and made his senior team debut in 2018, making 12 appearances for the senior team over two seasons.
In 2020, Bidyashagar signed for I-League side Trau. This turned out to be a major turning point in his football career. He scored 12 goals in 15 appearances, including two hat-tricks, leading Trau to a third-place finish that year. His performances in attack earned him several individual accolades - the Top Scorer award, the ‘Hero of the Season’ award and a place in the I-League ‘Team of the Season.’ Following his exemplary performance in the I-League, he signed with Bengaluru FC for whom he scored 3 goals in his 11 appearances in different national and international competitions.
Commenting on the Blaster's third Indian signing of the summer Sporting Director Karolis Skinkys said " I would like to congratulate Bidya for joining Kerala Blasters club. He showed his quality a couple seasons ago and we would like to give him the opportunity to explore himself in ISL. We are ready to help and wish him all the best with the new challenge. I am excited for this move, I am looking to get some game time and get my scoring boots back on. I know some of my teammates from Manipur, I am looking forward to get know the rest of them. It's a new challenge for me, a new place, new colors, and a new mission, and will look to deliver. I want to thank the coach and management for giving me this opportunity. " said a happy Bidyashagar Singh
Bidyashagar became KBFC's third Indian signing of the summer after Saurav Mandal and Bryce Miranda. Bidyashagar will add a new dimension to the Blasters attack as they prepare for the upcoming Hero ISL 2022/23 season. Bidyashagar is expected to link up with his teammates in Dubai as the Blasters prepare for the first of their three friendlies in the UAE. The Blasters are set to play against UAE First Division side Al-Nasr on 20th August.
Manchester United’s deal to sign Adrian Rabiot from Juventus collapses
(Football news) Manchester United’s attempt to sign French midfielder Adrian Rabiot has collapsed. After a disastrous start to their Premier League season, the club had hoped that the 27 year old, who will become a free agent next year after an underwhelming spell with Juventus, will bolster their midfield for the 2022/23 season. Despite a fee being agreed between the two clubs, Manchester United has failed to reach an agreement with Rabiot’s representatives regarding the wages and the gap between the two parties is too great.
Adrian Rabiot has had plenty of controversies in his career and the player has a reputation for being a disruptive influence in the dressing room. Manchester United had offered to make Rabiot one of the highest earners at the club but the 27 year old wasn’t satisfied with the offer. As things stand, Manchester United are now looking at other options with Real Madrid’s Casemiro being mentioned as one of the potential transfer targets while the possibility of Rabiot coming to Old Trafford is all but nonexistent at the moment.
Manchester United have had a disappointing transfer window this summer after a poor Premier League season last year. The Red Devils have signed Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen and Tyler Malacia and are currently rock bottom of the league table (20th) with Liverpool as their next opponents. The club are still interested in FC Barcelona’s Frenkie De Jong but a transfer for the 25 year old is getting more improbable by the day as the player has consistently expressed his desire to remain at the Camp Nou.
1st ODI: All eyes on skipper KL Rahul as India get ready to steamroll Zimbabwe
Harare, Aug 17 (Cricket News) Skipper KL Rahul's form and fitness will be observed keenly when India take on Zimbabwe in a three-match series, starting Thursday, in 50-over format, which is fast losing popularity and struggling to retain its identity.
Supposed to be one of the most vital cogs in India's T20 World Cup top-order, Rahul would like to make full use of the game time he gets as an opener during the three games against Regis Chakabva's side.
Rahul's immediate task at hand after a two-month lay-off, during which he underwent a sports hernia surgery, is to keep his opening slot in T20 cricket and adapt to the team's philosophy of going hell for leather from ball one.
It won't just be about runs that skipper Rohit Sharma or coach Rahul Dravid would be looking at when they monitor Rahul's performance in Zimbabwe.
Rather they would like to check out his approach and the manner in which he is scoring runs, something he would need to tweak before that first Asia Cup game against Pakistan on August 28.
On the Harare Sports Club batting belters where Zimbabwe chased down Bangladesh's 300 plus and 290-odd targets in successive games in the recently-concluded series, India's batting line-up with Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda and Sanju Samson will certainly prove to be more than a handful for hosts.
And unlike Bangladesh, a bowling attack comprising Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna, Deepak Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav along with all-rounders Shardul Thakur and Axar Patel has more potency in any conditions against this Zimbabwe line-up.
For Zimbabwe, the aim would be to become the proverbial banana peel on which Rahul and his men can slip as a series win for 'Men in Blue' would hardly win them any accolades but a defeat would invite sharp criticism.
The hosts therefore wouldn't mind if the likes of Sikandar Raza, Chakabva and Innocent Kaia repeat their batting performances from the Bangladesh encounters and show the world that the previous series win was not just a mere flash in the pan.
Objectives of the series ------------------------- Gone are the days of Flower brothers (Andy and Grant), Heath Streaks (now tainted and suspended), Neil Johnsons, Murray Goodwins and Henry Olongas. It was a side that could take the Mickey out of the opposition on good days.
Zimbabwe cricket, like the country itself has gone through turmoil over the past two decades and the quality has been severely impacted.
Someone like 36-year-old Raza, 34-year-old skipper Chakabva or 34-year old Donald Tiripano are sincere performers but would never make any opposition feel threatened.
India's tours of Zimbabwe are normally a kind of gift from 'big brother' to help a 'younger' gain financial stability.
The TV and digital rights revenue from three India games will cover Zimbabwe cricket's more than half the costs for the year.
So this earns BCCI a goodwill gesture.
On the cricketing part, this gives selectors a chance to look at bench strength and also jot down some of the names, who will figure in the larger picture for the 2023 50-over World Cup.
Right now, Indian cricket possesses such quality that it can field three white ball teams in three different continents at the same time.
This is one such glorified 'A' series as a lot of the members will be playing in the home A series against New Zealand and Australia later this year.
Chahar and Kuldeep ---------------------- Two bowlers who would be looking to give it their all are Deepak Chahar, who is back in the mix after six months and Kuldeep Yadav, who is slowly getting his mojo back.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has consolidated his place in the T20 set-up but Chahar with his swing bowling in Powerplay overs and ability to hit big shots in the death overs will like to make an impression. He is already in the standby list for the Asia Cup.
Another player, who would fancy a debut would be Maharashtra man Rahul Tripathi, a consistent IPL performer and may be someone who VVS Laxman could use in the middle-order at times at the expense of Shardul Thakur.
In all, a 3-0 clean sweep is the order of the day and any diversion would be considered a below-par effort.
Squads: India: KL Rahul (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan (vice-captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Sanju Samson (wicket-keeper), Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Avesh Khan, Prasidh Krishna, Mohd Siraj, Deepak Chahar, Shahbaz Ahmed.
Zimbabwe: Regis Chakabva (captain), Ryan Burl, Tanaka Chivanga, Bradley Evans , Luke Jongwe , Innocent Kaia, Takudzwanashe Kaitano , Clive Madande, Wessly Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, John Masara, Tony Munyonga , Richard Ngarava , Victor Nyauchi , Sikandar Raza , Milton Shumba , Donald Tiripano.
Match Starts: 12:45pm IST.
Also Read : Shastri had very little tolerance for failure: Karthik
News Source : PTI
Representing India at the Asian Badminton Championship was special: Varun Kapur
Currently training at the Nikhil Kanetkar Academy in Balewadi, Varun Kapur is regarded as one of the top badminton prospects in India. He was ranked 1 in the BWF Junior Rankings (March 2021), winning the Uganda International series in 2021, the Lithuanian Juniors in August 2019 and Li Ning Cyprus Juniors & Valmar Juniors in April 2019. He has played a total of 75 matches with a win percentage of 78% and has received a Golden Visa from the Dubai Sports Council.
In this exclusive interview, Varun Kapur speaks about his badminton journey, moving to Pune for his professional career, experience at the Nikhil Kanetkar Academy, special achievements, overcoming challenges and his future goals.
Q 1) When were you first introduced to badminton and what made you pursue it professionally?
I started playing badminton back in Kolkata when I was six, but that was only for fun. My coaches said that I was playing well, but there was no infrastructure there (Kolkata) to develop as a badminton player so I decided to move to Pune. I had been here before for summer camps and that helped me make my decision.
Q 2) How difficult was it to shift to Pune at the age of 11 to become a professional badminton player?
Born and brought up in Kolkata, it was due to the love for the sport that I decided to move to Pune. Leaving my family and coming to seek new pastures in the city with my mother was a hard thing to do for an 11-year-old.
Q 3) How has your experience been at the Nikhil Kanetkar Academy in Balewadi?
My coach Nikhil Kanetkar built my confidence, instilled courage and made me work harder, which I am glad about. I have excellent relations with Nikhil Sir and all the coaches in the academy.
Q 4) You have won a number of tournaments such as Uganda International series 2021, Lithuanian Juniors, Aug 2019 and Li Ning Cyprus Juniors & Valmar Juniors, April 2019. What has been the most special achievement in your career so far and why?
Two moments are very special to me : First one was being selected to represent India in the Asian Badminton Championship and the second was becoming Junior World Number 2 at the start of 2021. I am also honoured to have received the Golden Visa and would like to thank the Dubai Sports Council.
Q 5) What are some of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges was to play an international tournament right after my boards. It actually worked out in my favor and was a great confidence boost
Q 6) What are some of your future goals and aspirations? How are you working towards achieving them?
Representing my country in the Olympic Games. I am training and working towards achieving this goal by practicing each day.
My dream is to win the British Junior Open: Squash player Yuvraj Wadhwani
Ranked 4th in the Boys U17 Category, squash player Yuvraj Wadhwani is the winner of the Asian Junior Squash Championships (U13) 2018, becoming only the second Indian to win the prestigious tournament. He was inducted into the Virat Kohli Foundation in 2019 and finished third at the British Junior Open World Championships Birmingham BU13.
In this exclusive interview, Yuvraj Wadhwani speaks about his journey as a professional squash player, experience at the German and Dutch Open, biggest inspirations in his career, importance of mental strength and his future goals.
Q 1) When did you first start playing squash? What about the sport caught your attention and motivated you to pursue it professionally?
I started playing squash at the age of 7. Prior to that I swam at the district level and won many medals in swimming. My keystroke was the butterfly stroke. I also played chess at a district and state level till the age of 8 before making squash my primary sport. I started playing squash with my dad for fun and joined the squash academy at Khar Gymkhana during my summer vacation. I enjoyed it a lot as it involved a lot of interaction with other players and even uncles who sweetly played with me there. But as school timings did not allow me to pursue all 3 sports I had to choose. I chose squash as it was fun, energetic and like playing physical chess. Also, the fact that I always had an excellent hand eye coordination from a young age probably helped me in squash.
Q 2) You finished 4th and 6th in the German and Dutch Open. How was the experience and what did you learn from it?
I love the feeling of representing India. It makes you feel proud and on top of the world. You learn a lot about your own game especially when you play the best of the best in the world. There is a learning curve involved and it pushes you to work harder. Unfortunately, my 10th Standard board exams were over just a month before these 2 tournaments, not giving me the adequate time required to train for them. Though I did train during my exams I wasn’t able to put in the kind of hours I would have liked. Despite that I would say that the results were great. I also secured a 97.8 % in my ICSE board exams.
Q 3) Who have been the biggest inspirations in your career so far and why?
One of my biggest inspirations is Mr. Virat Kohli. Nothing was handed to him easily. He has earned everything from pure dedication, hard work and passion. Few things I love about him are his never give up attitude, always putting his best foot forward and his hunger to succeed.
Also read: Everything that I have done in rugby is to represent India: Shahnawaz
Q 4) What is your training regime before a big event? How important is mental strength to succeed as a professional squash player?
A lot of preparation goes in before an event. One needs to start fitness training & technique correction months prior to the event and then step up to match practice just prior. Mental fitness plays a huge part in the game. Especially when it’s a 3-2 game and you are at 10 all in the 5th set. It's all about grit and nerves. My current coach Ritwik Bhattacharya is a great mentor and pushes you to do your best. I also have a great team of coaches, my parents and my Nani (my biggest fan) backing me who help me with the support I need.
Q 5) You’re currently in the top 5 in the U17 category. Would you say it’s the biggest achievement of your career? If not, which accomplishment do you consider the most special and why?
My most special accomplishment was when I was chosen to represent India in the Boys Under 13 category in the No. 1 position. I was only 11 and the youngest player to represent India in Asian Junior Individual Championships that year. My Asian Junior Gold & Silver medal along with my 4 Junior National titles are extremely dear to me and I hope to win them again. My biggest dream in the junior category is to win the British Junior Open one day.
Q 6) What are your future goals as a squash player? How do you plan to achieve them?
If wishes would come true then in the short term I do hope to win a British Junior title, an Asian Junior and a Junior National title. This will involve a lot of teamwork, hard work and dedication. I will need to work on my fitness, my game, my strength, and mental conditioning all in 1. I must thank my school, Bombay Scottish School, Mahim who have extended help in all possible ways to help me achieve my goals. My coach Ritwik Bhattacharya and his team, coach Avinash Bhavnani, the Indian squash federation, my clubs, and everyone who contributed towards my success. In the long term, I do hope to represent India in the Asian and Commonwealth games and win a PSA title.
Everything that I have done in rugby is to represent India: Shahnawaz
Hailing from Bhubaneswar, Shahnawaz (Sonu) has been playing rugby since 2015. The 26 year old has represented Odisha and aims to not just win accolades for the country but also promote the sport of rugby. In this exclusive interview, Shahnawaz speaks about his journey as a professional rugby player, his idols growing up, playing the nationals for Odisha, importance of mental strength, overcoming challenges, special achievements and future goals.
Q 1) Hailing from Bhubaneswar, when were you first introduced to rugby and what motivated you to take it up professionally?
I was introduced to rugby in school by my coach who encouraged me to participate in the trials. I was selected for the Club Sevens first and I was a bit wary of the sport since there is a lot of body contact but that’s how I was introduced to rugby.
Q 2) Who were some of your rugby idols while growing up?
I was not aware of foreign players who played rugby while I was growing up but I looked up to my coach Manoj Kumar and a player called Piyush Khatri. I wanted to be like both of them.
Q 3) How was the experience of playing the nationals for Odisha?
I started playing nationals in 2015 and my selection was unexpected as there were many people who had been playing rugby for much longer than I was and worked harder than me. Initially, I couldn’t believe that I was selected but the coach reassured me that I was indeed selected for the nationals.
Q 4) How important is mental strength to become a professional rugby player?
The game is played mentally and how strong you are will determine how high you will climb in rugby. Since rugby is a contact sport, injuries are inevitable and being prepared mentally to deal with such situations is very important. It’s important to ignore the naysayers and keep your eye on the goal.
Also read: I want to promote the sport of rugby in Mizoram: Sangzuala Zosanguala
Q 4) What are some of the challenges that you have faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
There have been many challenges. A rugby player needs supplements to build their physique and travelling to locations requires money. There wasn’t enough support we had to finance our own careers. It’s hard to mention the hardships that I have faced in my journey simply because there are so many.
Q 5) What is your most special achievement in your rugby career and why?
In 2021, we reached third in the nationals which was a very special achievement for me. Now that I’m representing India, getting the jersey was very memorable because everything that I have done in my career has been to represent my country.
Q 6) What are your goals in the future? How are you working towards achieving them?
India is a cricket crazy country while rugby is relatively unknown. I want rugby to get more recognition and development of the sport is very important. I also want to win gold at the upcoming tournament that I’m participating in so that people come to know that the Indian rugby team is capable of achieving medals at the highest level.
I want to promote the sport of rugby in Mizoram: Sangzuala Zosanguala
At the age of 28, Sangzuala Zosanguala (a.k.a Zuala) has been playing professional rugby since 2016. He finished fifth at the Asian Sevens Trophy Tournament in Indonesia and won the silver medal in the National Games in 2019. With an aim to promote rugby in Mizoram, Zuala is working hard to prepare himself for upcoming tournaments and aims to serve as an inspiration for future generations.
In this exclusive interview, Zuala speaks about being introduced to the sport, his achievements so far, experience at the Asian Sevens Trophy Tournament, promoting the sport in Mizoram, overcoming challenges and his future goals.
Q 1) Hailing from Mizoram, a state not known for rugby, how were you first introduced to the sport? What motivated you to pursue it professionally?
I was first asked to play Rugby in the army and I really enjoyed the game instantly. It was the army who introduced me to this sport.
Q 2) You have been playing rugby professionally since 2016, how has the experience been so far and what is your most special achievement?
Till now the biggest achievement would be winning the Silver medal in the National Games 2019.
Q 3) Tell us about your experience at the Asian Sevens Trophy Tournament in Indonesia where the team finished fifth.
It was my first international tournament and I was a little nervous to be honest as I had very little experience. Playing that tournament was a great experience as I got to learn a lot of things. Playing with the senior players for the country was a really special feeling.
Also read: My goal is to take the Indian rugby team to a higher level: Surinder Singh
Q 4) As an experienced rugby player, how do you want to promote the sport in Mizoram?
I want to promote rugby in Mizoram but to make that happen, I need to speak to Rahul Bose (the President of the Indian Rugby Federation) because I am in the Army and I cannot promote the sport on my own.
Q 5) What are the challenges you have faced in your professional rugby career? How did you overcome them?
When I was in the Army team there was too much competition for a single position. Out of the 50 players only 12 were to be selected and the position I wanted already had an experienced veteran who was already in the Indian team but ultimately with my hard work and dedication I got a place in the Indian National Rugby team.
Q 6) What are your future goals? How are you working to achieve them?
The future goal right now is to put in my best performance in the upcoming tournaments. I plan to achieve this by showing regular consistency in my game and improving my weaknesses.