Anjum Chopra: 'I have no mentors!'
She is smart, she is stylish! Meet Anjum Chopra, the most elegant batswoman India has ever produced.
Arjuna awardee, Anjum Chopra has played several good innings for the country in her 12 Tests and 121 ODIs.
The gorgeous player is probably known more for her crisp views as a cricket expert on television shows than her stylish strokeplay as a batswoman, and those who have seen her bat, swear that she is the most wonderful batswoman of the country.
She has maintained that elegance and held on to her own in the presence of top cricketers on the tube, often making a subtle point that others are forced to agree with. The multitalented ex-captain who holds an MBA has also co-authored a book on women's cricket, tells Urmila Rao that she plans to achieve much more.
Why did you decide to get into cricket and take it up as a profession? How did your parents and friends react to your choice?
I belong to a family of sports people. My maternal grandfather was a Commonwealth, Asian Games athlete and a cricket commentator, my maternal uncle played first class cricket till the India 'A' level. My brother has also played cricket for Delhi, under 17 and 19, my dad is a golfer and my mom, a car rallyist. She won the Goodyear car rally in 1984-85. So sports was a natural choice for me, a way of life. My parents always supported me and do so even today in all my sporting endeavours.
As a woman cricketer, did you have to face any challenges professionally and personally?
Yes. For woman sports, challenges are galore in Indian sports. Starting from the mindset, to equipment and then to the discrimination at all levels. But everything comes to a naught, when you don the Indian jersey, the official blazer and lead your team into historic victories. The culmination is when you are rewarded with the most prestigious sports award in India at the Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhawan. By the grace of God I have been lucky to have experienced this cycle as a player.
You hold an MBA qualification. What did you have in mind when you were adding MBA to your academic achievement?
Education and sports are equally important to me. Sports gives you respect, high and social standing but it all boils down to professional skill sets that one possesses, because, once playing days are over you would end up making that strategy presentation, sales pitch and what not...Besides, having idols like Rahul Dravid and Kumble it always helps, as they are pretty well educated!
Which teacher/professor do you remember the most and why?
My school sports teacher who is now the principal of the school as well. He is Dr DR Saini, principal Delhi Public School, RKPuram. He helped in inculcating a sports culture in highly education-dominated environment. He kept that balance for sports persons like me and encouraged at all given times to play the game. He reminded us that studies are a must but sports are not to be ignored.
Who is your mentor?
Well, I don't have any. I am what I am because of the support of my parents, family.
What message do you have girls who want to make a career in cricket?
Well, I always tell young kids that they should make sports as a way of life. A career or no- career is a different decision that one takes but to play a sport is always good as it is a great leveller. It teaches us all that we read in books. And more. I would also like to say to those budding sports people that if you are passionate about the game, go out and play it- regardless of the fact whether that fetches you fame, money or not. If you like the game -- play it!
Image: Anjum Chopra