The underlying meaning of the word ‘Salud’ is ‘good health’, which forms an important part of our mission. In addition to the sustainable and environmentally friendly production of healthy products, we also promote health awareness among our employees, customers and consumers. Sport is one of our top priorities. Successfully financing a starting out top sports career unfortunately isn’t something that’s readily available to every talent. We also know like no other how difficult it is to develop something and to subsequently continue with this. That’s why the Salud Food Group decided to launch the ‘Together we’ll make their dreams come true’ initiative. We’ll put an athlete in the spotlight every quarter and financially support him or her with help from customers like you, making sure their sports dreams can come true.

Who is Varad?

My name is Varad Gajbhiye, I am 25 years old and I live in Pune, India. I started playing badminton when I was 7 years old. The sport wasn’t popular at all back then, but my brother played badminton and it was because of him that I fell in love with the sport too. At first I played a great deal of badminton with my brother. He was already playing competitively with older players and also being allowed to play with them meant I learned a great deal. I am very close to my family and the whole reason I have managed to achieve what I did with badminton is as a result of their support. 

What does sport mean to you?

Sport means freedom to me. It’s a language spoken by everyone. I truly believe sport brings out the very best in people and gives us confidence and motivation. In my ideal world, everyone plays a sport, both adults and children. It teaches you to be passionate about something, or to fight for what you believe in.

In my case I learned this when I was playing in the ‘under 17’s’ age group and was allowed to play competitively with the ‘under 19’s’ age group. I saw this transition as a major challenge, as I was playing with older players and the difference in ability was higher compared to my own age category’s ability. The players in my new category were stronger and had gained more experience. I had to work hard to be able to effectively compete in this category. My brother and coach helped me to improve my techniques and muscles, allowing me to reach the top of the higher category. 

 

“Losing isn’t a setback, 

but should be regarded as essential feedback

for getting the very most out of yourself”

 

At what point did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in this sport?

I started playing badminton when I was 7 years old and started competing and playing in tournaments four years later. I already knew badminton was my sport when I was 7, but when I really started playing competitively and in tournaments, I realised this truly was the sport for me and that I wanted to turn this into a career. And ever since that time I have always done everything possible to get the very best out of myself. I started playing at state level thanks to this attitude and managed to finish in second place in the ‘under 17’s’ category. I really got a taste for things after this victory and participated with several other competitions and tournaments both at state and national level.

Which steps have you taken to pursue your dreams?

I worked out a number of steps in pursuit of this dream. I wanted to make sure I followed a plan and subsequently maintained a clear focus of my dream and goal. This was therefore the initial step for me: obtaining a clear image of my goal. I do this in the short-term, but definitely in the longer term too. My long-term objective is to realise my dream and to become a professional, international badminton player. My short-term goals involve competitions or tournaments. Secondly, I draw inspiration from other athletes, people who have already achieved what I want to achieve, how they’ve gone about realising this and what advice they would have for me, or other young players with a dream. I also keep a close eye on my own personal progress by looking at my quarterly performance levels and setting myself improvement points which I can work on during the following quarter. And finally, I’m naturally prepared for setbacks too. Losing a competition may feel like a setback, but I try to see it as feedback. Feedback which is essential to my progress and improvement of my game.

 

"Sport brings out the best in us"

What was your worst setback?

My worst setback was my shoulder injury. The strain meant I couldn’t play for two years. At one point I was worried I was never going to be able to play again. I worked on regaining my strength and preventing a new injury for a long time. I managed to recover with the help of friends and family and ended up in the final of my first tournament after my injury. I now follow a strict training and nutrition programme in order to avoid future injuries.

Did you receive any (financial) help when you started out as a professional?

I did have some help, but it was by no means easy. Badminton is an expensive sport and we barely had enough money at home for all the right equipment, for coaching and for the tournament registration fees. Fortunately my brother and I were able to share all the equipment and play together. I learned a great deal from him, which ultimately allowed me to improve my game. This resulted in me winning an increasing number of tournaments and competitio

ns, which meant I could then invest any prize money in lessons and coaching. I have recently also started coaching young talents myself, armed with these experiences. They are currently also playing at state level and I hope to be able to transfer all my knowledge across to them. So my dream is now no longer just my own career, but also to be able to continue to help these young talents.

What do you hope to have achieved in five years’ time?

I am currently doing well in the state tournaments. Financial circumstances have unfortunately stopped me from participating with national tournaments. I am now going to be able to participate with these thanks to the Salud Foodgroup’s support and hope to form part of the national top four in 5 years’ time. I also hope to be playing at international level by then and still be transferring my knowledge across to young talents too.


Would you like to know more about Varad Gajbhiye? Then follow him on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/varadgajbhiye/