Jibi School of Sports is aiming to produce medal winners at international sporting tournaments

There is much more to developing athletes at the grassroots than simply selecting talented youngsters and giving them the right tools to succeed in sport. Nurturing and tracking the progress of an aspiring athlete requires an environment where they can thrive, instilling discipline, values such as sportsman spirit, respect and equality. Vital lessons that play an instrumental role in not just developing an all rounded athlete but a wholesome individual who can adapt and thrive in the society.

In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Mr. Jibi Varghese, Founder of Jibi School of Sports speaks about its creation, objectives, the different sports the school is associated with, focus on physical and mental health, grassroot development of players and coaches, admission criteria and his vision for the future!

Q 1) What led to the creation of the Jibi School of Sports? What is your objective and how do you plan to achieve it?

I started playing Badminton out of my sheer love for sports at the age of 10. When I was 20, I started my professional training with Shri S M Arif, Padmshree and Dronacharya awardee. It was only then that I realised that I have been playing it wrong all these years and I felt quite disheartened. This left me with only two options – either to continue with the game or to stop playing it. However, I thought of giving the sport another try as I had given it so many years of my life. It was then that I had decided that whenever I stop playing, I will turn to coaching so that others don't have to face the problems I faced during my time in terms of wrong techniques, patterns and practises. In 2009 I resigned from railways and started my academy, the Jibi School of Sports. It was a tough decision after being the last state champion of undivided Madhya Pradesh, becoming the first men's international player from Chhattisgarh and it was quite a tough call to leave the job but I was determined to open an academy for the players so that I can guide them to go through the process comfortably that I had to go through with great struggle through Jibi School of Sports. The main objective of the Jibi School of Sports is, first and foremost, to include as many people in sports as possible, the second one is to win medals for India. We are currently focused on getting more participants first.

Q 2) Which are the different sports that Jibi School of Sports is involved with? Why is badminton the primary focus?

I always wanted to give back whatever I have learnt and gained from the sport. Badminton is my mother game and I also wanted to be associated with all the sports to help and support the players not only in badminton but in Football, Athletics, Table Tennis, etc. This is the main reason I thought of the Jibi School of Sports and not just the Jibi School of Badminton. We are registered with all the sporting activities but the main concern right now is badminton. We are also planning for a football academy and hope to reach that stage soon.

school-of-sports Jibi School of Sports is aiming to produce medal winners at international sporting tournaments

Q 3) Along with being involved with health matters such as weight reduction, general fitness etc, how does Jibi School of Sports prioritize mental health?

First of all, we need to understand that physical health and mental health go simultaneously. Players need to understand that both these things complement and help each other. What we do is try to involve as many players, parents, coaches and support staff as we can to indulge them into some games and programs so that they are able to connect well. Any person who enjoys his daily chores or activities remains mentally healthy. Physical aspects develop and stabilize mental health. Hence, with these physical activities we try to involve as much as people associated with us, not just the players, but their parents, the support staff and others. When my students and players are playing international tournaments, they are under immense pressure as they are not only playing for themselves but they are playing for their families, friends, relatives and most importantly the country. That pressure needs to be handled in day to day activities so that handling it becomes easier during the time of the tournament or else it becomes difficult for players to perform there as they might lose their calmness. I believe that to work towards the bigger picture, the small routines are pretty important. For example, when I get up in the morning, the first task that I do is to fold my bedsheets, make my bed and then leave my bedroom. These small activities are the ones which I encourage amongst kids and these small victories help them gain the confidence in performing their daily activities so that they are able to perform at the highest level. This is what we are trying to do on the mental health front.

Q 4) How does Jibi School of Sports help in the development of sports and athletes?

Since we have started the academy, we have been working with the grassroot level coaching, not only for the players but also for the coaches. Although our academy is a high performance centre, we are focused on grassroot level, intermediate level and high performance coaching. I attend and conduct camps and we sometimes invite players. We even conduct tournaments and hold trials for talent identification for both the players and the coaches. We monitor the growth, see how they are doing, how they can go to the next level. We have a large number of kids so we need more coaches. You will only get a high number of quality players if the foundation is good, otherwise their performance will be very marginal. This is the way we work camps and we also provide exchange camps and hold seminars for beginner level coaches. This is how we are trying to develop their game.

school-of-sports-2 Jibi School of Sports is aiming to produce medal winners at international sporting tournaments

Q 5) How does the Jibi School of Sports assess admissions based on performance and ranking? What are the criterias that applicants must keep in mind?

There is no selection criteria upto the age of 15. Anyone and everyone is invited because we are developing the grassroot level talent as there is no guarantee that such a player will reach the intermediate level. We want as many people included as possible because not everyone will be able to perform, win a medal or win at the international level. This is why we try to involve everyone. For those up to the age of 15, we are not bothered with what they are doing, whether or not they have played, it doesn't matter. Until the age of 15, we take students that are willing and want to play, on a trial period basis. We watch their district, state and national level performance according to which we select the players and we promote them to the next level.

Q 6) What is your vision and goals for Jibi School of Sports in the future? How do you plan to achieve it?

In 2010, we registered as JIBI School of Sports. In these 11 years, we have won approximately 35 state medals from all over the country including national titles and we have won 5 international medals. Our aim is to bring home a gold medal at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games or the Asian Games. We have a plan for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the 2024 Olympics which we have been following since 2017. We have got three top National and International level players like Mugdha Agrey, Vaidehi Chaudhari and Rudra Rane. We are expecting medals in the near future but are a little delayed because of the pandemic. However, we are still on the right path so hopefully we can expect gold medals in the near future.


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