PV Sindhu, Sunil Chhetri urge parents to let children discover sport

Both PV Sindhu and Sunil Chhetri credited their parents for letting them express themselves while growing up.

By Ubaid Parkar

It was the support of their parents that allowed Indian badminton star PV Sindhu and football ace Sunil Chhetri to realise their potential.

The two have won several accolades for their country. While Sunil Chhetri has gone on to become one of the highest goal-scorers in international football for India and also lead the national side, PV Sindhu is an Olympic silver medallist and the reigning world badminton champion.

It’s why the two have called on the parents in the country to encourage children to find their own path with the help of sport.

Speaking on Friday during an online session of the Fit India Series, a flagship project of the Indian government, the elite athletes pointed out that the seeds of sporting success were laid early in their lives, and at home.

“I have to be thankful to my parents; I am lucky that they themselves were sportspersons,” PV Sindhu said. “They have gone through a lot and they supported me in whatever sport I wanted to be in.”

Both PV Sindhu’s parents were volleyball players but had no qualms in their daughter taking up badminton, a sport of her own choosing.

It was a similar story in the Sunil Chhetri household, with his parents, both ardent sports lovers, triggering the football dream.

“My sister and I were encouraged to play all the different sports. Mum was our biggest competition. Till I was 13, my only dream was to beat her,” quipped the Indian football team captain.  

“We were allowed to express ourselves, which now when I look back find very profound. So whatever I have achieved in my life, it’s all because of my parents.”

Backed with his own experience, Chhetri encouraged all parents to support their children as they set about exploring their own path.

“One week they would want to become PV Sindhu, another week Leander Paes and Sachin Tendulkar next.

“It could get frustrating for parents that week after week the focus changes, from playing football to becoming a doctor. But that’s how kids are."

Becoming a better person

According to Sunil Chhetri, sport can also help instill discipline and help excel in all aspects of life.

“There’s nothing in your books that can teach you more than sports in a complete way,” he reckoned. “How to deal with a loss, how to keep your chin up, how to stay humble after a win, how to live life... sport teaches you everything.

“If Sindhu, I and all the other athletes have become better persons, it’s because of sports. We are better human beings because of it. 

“Pick any sports and keep enjoying it. You can be a doctor, an engineer, or whatever you want to be, but keep playing,” he insisted.