(Photo: Badminton Europe)
Mathias Boe: I am here to push them
Date: 4/1/2021 9:42 AM
Published by : Alan Raftery
Mathias Boe wasted no time at all post-retirement to return to the limelight. Now coaching the emerging Indian talents, has the former two-time European Champion become apart of something really special? 

Mathias Boe, 40, only called it a day in 2020 still playing at the highest level. The notorious Dane, former world number one, has won and experienced almost everything a player can in the sport. Highlights included the 2012 Olympics silver, the 2013 World Championship silver and the Danish 2016 Thomas Cup win. 

In 2021, a new chapter of Boe’s life began as he became coach of the Indian national team, taking over from Flandy Limpele of Indonesia who stepped down from the role last year due to personal reasons.

Boe has a connection to India through his partner, Taapsee Pannu, a well-known Bollywood actress. Pannu is also the owner of the badminton franchise Pune 7 Aces, which plays in the Premier Badminton League.

Subsequently, a coaching role in India was too good to turn down. Boe made his debut appearance behind the court of the Indian players at the Swiss Open 2021 in Basel, just at the beginning of March.

-It is nice to be back seeing all of my former colleagues and a lot of the players I have played throughout the years. A lot of them are coaches also, so we can joke from the sideline. It’s exciting and a new challenge. It’s not as stressful as being a player, but still stressful and you feel the nerves. It’s a good experience. I enjoy it. 

India is rising
Throughout badminton history, India has managed to produce fine singles players. Namely, 2001 All England Champion, Pullela Gopichand and former world number one, Srikanth Kidambi, in men’s singles. In the women’s singles, multiple world and Olympic medallists, Saina Nehwal and Pusarla V. Sindhu have led the way and are household names in India. 

Doubles on the other hand has not been an area of strength for India, a country of 1.3 billion people, but things are changing fast, and Boe is a part of this new wave of doubles talents. 

-India is a great badminton nation with a lot of young players who really want to play doubles now. A lot of girls and boys are really keen on it. We have seen the young players move up in the ranking, and even Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/ Chirag Shetty might seem experienced, we need to remember they are only 21 and 23. When you have players at their level, it is easier to intensify and have higher quality practise at each and every session. 

Rankireddy/ Shetty broke into the top men’s doubles players in the world and reached the semifinals of the Swiss Open 2021. Boe will be working the young guns hard. 

-Now I am here to push them, scold them if they are not doing what I tell them. It’s good fun and I hope I can pass on some of my experience to them. 

Mental strength
Winner of countless titles, overcoming many high-pressure situations, Mathias Boe seemed to thrive under the tension and cope better than most. Much has been written that these attributes are something that the Indian team will benefit from.  

-The things that I have been good at I would like to see if I can pass that on to all Indian players. As a coach, you can only be a guide. At the end of the day, it is down to the players and their mindset which decides how they want to prepare for the sessions. I can’t go on court play for them, and that won’t be pretty in my case anymore, I am getting too slow and old, Boe joked. 

Looking to the bright future, Boe says there are no strict targets, but hopes he can make a lasting impression. 

-Our target is just to be as good as possible. Personally, it is to see if I can pass something on to the Indian badminton culture, and to give them some tools that they can utilise in the future for the next 10 years or however long they want to play for. Hopefully, we can develop the game and we’ll have to see what happens.
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