‘When the mind matters the most, then why is there no structure or training for it?’ Mental health is a taboo in India. We have often seen athletes of other countries openly talk about their mental health issues. In India, most people still aren’t aware of it and are embarrassed to even speak about it. Former India cricketer Subramaniam Badrinath has started a non-profit initiative called MFORE, to help cricketers, coaches and parents venture into mind conditioning to be able to reach their peak form.
The West Indian cricketing legend, Brian Lara, came out in support of the initiative as he said, ” Mental strength is a very important part of the game. Talent is one thing but you have to be mentally strong for the game, so I worked on improving that more than anything else. Badri is doing a wonderful job and I know all his efforts are invested into young people coming forward and expressing their talents on the real stage.”
Indian cricket team captain, Virat Kohli said “I think mental health and mental clarity are the most important factors in life; not just in sports. With Badrinath and MFORE helping these cricketers, this will go a long way in understanding themselves better and going out there and performing despite the conditions and situations being difficult for them.”
In an exclusive interview with Sports India Show, former India cricketer S Badrinath talks about the vision, mission and challenges of MFORE.
SIS: How did the idea of launching MFore come about?
SB: I have always believed that the mind has a major role to play in sports. It has been that way throughout my career. I have gone through a lot in my career. The year 2014 was turning out to be a tough one for me and that is when I went through mental conditioning coaching and this had a positive impact on me. The idea of forming an initiative came about on a golf course when my partner Saravana and I were playing badly. We started analyzing why we were not able to execute the shots the way we wanted to and in all the cases the answer was always about the mind. All of us keep saying it’s all in the mind. So when the mind matters the most, then why is there no structure or training for it? Hence, we thought of coming up with a platform that deals with the mental ability of an athlete.
SIS: The name is very interesting, any stories behind the name MFORE?
SB: Well, M stands for Mind and FORE stands for ‘forefront’, which means putting the mind in front. Also, ‘FORE’ is a term in golf. It is used to warn the audience or other golfers that a ball might be heading their way and that too played on my mind.
SIS: You seem to be quite passionate about golf?
SB: Yes, golf keeps me going. It gives me peace of mind, provides a thinking space and I love playing golf whenever I am free.
SIS: In India, mental health awareness is very low. So how have you planned to spread awareness?
SB: In countries like the US, UK mental health is a part of their curriculum and hence they grow up understanding and training their minds. In India though, the challenge is to spread awareness among the athletes and their stakeholders – coaches and family. This is where top athletes come in handy. Like we recently had an event The Transformation coach where 20 coaches from all over India participated. After their session with the mind coach, they got one and a half-hour session with MS Dhoni. It was an interactive session. Dhoni answered all their questions and shared his experiences, anxieties and how he coped with them. These sort of sessions will help spread more awareness. When the countries top athletes talk about mental health it will make more and more people aware of the need to train their minds.