As a Sports Authority of India (SAI) coach deputed to Chennai in 1976, Sanjiv, with a host of dedicated officials, developed badminton from scratch.

Sanjiv Sachdeva, former India junior coach.
| Photo Credit: K. Keerthivasan

There was a time when Sanjiv Sachdeva was the most respected and popular badminton coach in Chennai.

As a Sports Authority of India (SAI) coach deputed to the city in 1976, Sanjiv, with a host of dedicated officials, developed the sport from scratch.

“When I completed my training in NIS Patiala, my first posting was in Chennai in 1976. The sport was not popular then. I started going to a few districts and did a few summer camps. Badminton slowly came up in Tamil Nadu. There are so many good players from Chennai now. It was because of the base we set up,” Sanjiv, who retired from SAI (Chennai) in 2009, told The Hindu during the 85th senior National championships here on Wednesday.

The Krishna Khaitan memorial tournament was one of the most successful junior-ranking event which was conducted in the City for more than a decade. Sanjiv was instrumental in putting together the tournament.

“When Vivek Goenka’s (the then Chairman of Indian Express) mother passed away. I asked him whether we can conduct a badminton tournament in her memory. He said ‘why not’”. I became the organising secretary of the tournament and conducted it from 1991 to 2009.”

He said despite the lack of a proper system, Chennai produced quite a few talented players.

“We had very good players in Ajit Haridas, Sandesh Chowta, Prabhakar and Vandana. There were no proper facilities and equipment and we didn’t have a proper indoor stadium. We used to practice at the University Union Indoor Stadium for a few hours. Despite constraints, we grew,” said Sanjiv.

After moving to his home state Haryana in 2009-10, Sanjiv ensured that the Krishna Khaitan memorial tournament was conducted in Chandigarh. He again became the organising secretary for eight years before the event moved to Panchkula.

“We have been holding Krishna Khaitan in Panchkula for three years now. We have 10 courts with air-conditioning facilities.”

The 75-year-old has his hands full. He is now the badminton consultant in the Haryana Government’s sports department, and is occupied in conducting Krishna Khaitan tournament in his role as the competition director.

Having settled in Chandigarh, Sanjiv still has fond memories of Chennai.

“I really miss Chennai. I had some of the best time in the City. There are very good people and we did produce quite a few excellent players,” he remarked.

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