Sportsnasha had an opportunity to interview the rising star of Indian golf, Vani Kapoor. Here are a few excerpts from the interview with Swanand Phadke for Sportsnasha.
Swanand: In a male-dominated country which is fascinated with cricket, you have overcome both these hurdles to establish yourself as a rising Indian Woman Golfer. What are the things which kept you motivated?
Vani: So, to answer your first question, yes, Indians are fascinated by cricket but I feel things are changing as far as male-domination is concerned. I don’t think families hold back women nowadays from achieving their dreams. So many of our athletes like Saina Nehwal,P V Sindhu,Sania Mirza,Mary Kom, Hima Das, etc. have put India on the world map. Fortunately, my family has been extremely supportive. My circle is so positive that I look at obstacles as challenges and stepping stones to my ultimate goal. I love winning and winning is something that always motivates me to keep going on.
Swanand: Was taking up golf professionally a calculated decision or did it happen by chance?
Vani: Well, taking up golf professionally was a calculated decision. I started at a very young age of twelve. When I started playing, I used to hate golf and was forced into it by my parents. I used to learn from my father so that I could spend some time with him. Once I found my coach, Anitya Chand, he encouraged me to look at it professionally.
Swanand: You have reached international levels at a young age. Does it intimidate or scare you anytime while playing along with veterans? Do veterans come and have a word with you while on the tour?
Vani: I don’t get intimidated or scared while playing golf with veterans. On European Tour, everyone talks to everyone. I just think that everyone will start from same score eventually. I look up to them for inspiration to perform better. I just concentrate on my game. My focus is on me.
Swanand: How closely Indian Government take interest in development of golf as sports?
Vani: Unfortunately, golf is run by a private body and the government has got nothing to do with it. I wish that the government gets involved in promoting golf. It will do wonders for the sport if even we get recognition. We actually need it.
Swanand: Any role model? Someone you look up to in the field of sports in India or abroad?
Vani: Tiger Woods is one of my role models. He is just extraordinary. Roger Federer is my favourite as well. I like the way he carries himself. Hopefully, one day I will be the same. In India(pauses) I really like P V Sindhu. And… That’s it.
Swanand: You play a sport which requires maximum mental conditioning.What are the activities that you do to keep calm and focused?
Vani: Golf is played almost every week. I am mindful. I meditate and concentrate on my breathing to keep calm.
Swanand: Other players from other sports that we had a chance to talk to, mentioned that while playing they keep on talking to themselves or sing a song to keep their mind occupied which helps them focus,do you also sing a song while you play? If yes,which song is it?
Vani: On the golf course, we have a caddie with us. Caddie and a player form one team. I talk to my caddie, not a lot though. I talk about things other than golf because otherwise it’s impossible to concentrate on the game for 4 and a half to 5 hours. Yes, I sing a song at times. It motivates me.
Swanand: While on the tour what you do at the end of day’s play? Do you go out and party or focus on next game and strategize?
Vani: Well, right after the round, I come back to my room and do my stats for the day. I plan for the next day’s strategies and where I need to improve. I don’t go out partying at all. I relax after my game.
Swanand: Many star cricketers who retired are turning to golf viz. Vishwanath, Kapil Dev etc. Do you think it will help the sport or will it just divert attention from mainstream golfers?
Vani: I think it definitely helps the sport. I don’t think it will divert attention from main golfers.
Swanand: What is your equation with other Indian women golfers like?
Vani: I am a social person so I gel with everyone and everyone gels with me. Since it is a small community of women golfers in India, we all get along well and have a ball of a time on tour.
Swanand: While others were taking up the Kiki Challenge,you were busy preparing for your next tournament.Any message to others from your generation to get them on field and away from gadgets?
Vani: I think sport is extremely important. It makes an individual grow in so many different aspects that even formal education doesn’t cover. What you learn while travelling is more substantial than what you learn on video games, gadgets and textbooks. Golf has taught me a lot.It taught me to play with whatever is in my control at that moment. It is an essential life lesson. I would urge everyone to pick up golf and try to excel in it.
Swanand: Where do you see Indian golfers in the next 10 years and where do you see yourself in next 10 years?
Vani: I see Indian players both male and female winning on PGA and LPGA tours. Also winning majors one day. I wish to be one of them in the next 10 years.