NEW DELHI: For the past 22 years, the loyal supporters of the England football team have been crooning to ‘It’s Coming Home’. But who would have known that a bunch of Indian upstarts, daring to dream big, would make that song their own.
Thus, a WhatsApp group of 10 India badminton players was formed and the admin named it ‘It’s Coming Home’. The force behind it was the eternal comeback man HS Prannoy, whose acts of ‘Escape to Victory’ would now be a part of Indian sporting folklore. The seeds of success were sown for years and even before the players boarded the flight to Bangkok, they had immense self belief that something big was just waiting to happen.
And at Bangkok’s Impact Arena on Sunday, India showed its impact in the Thomas Cup final and the team culture played its part. After all, the team that stays together plays together.
“The way everyone bonded this week ... we made a conscious effort to do this because we knew this is not something common. We play individual events. To come here and gel was tough, but we made that conscious effort,” Prannoy said on Sunday.
Behind India’s historic triumph was self belief, which grew stronger as the group of players started hanging together and dreamt of achieving something big.
“The day we left Hyderabad, we had a discussion where we said: ‘We have the team to challenge for the title’. The only thing we had to do was support each other.”
As part of the effort, Prannoy, the senior-most member of the team, created a WhatsApp group with the title ‘It’s coming home’. “The players tried to bond and support each other which meant doing things together, like wearing the same dress at airport while departing Hyderabad, practising as a group, having breakfast, lunch and dinner together, having fun sessions together. All of this helped,” India coach Siyadutallah told PTI.
“They danced after each match and enjoyed each other’s success. [Kidambi] Srikanth has always been quiet, not showing many emotions. But, he was pumped up. The way he pumped his fist showed what the wins meant to him,” Siyadutullah said.
Once the presentation ceremony and photographs with the gold medals were done, celebrations began. “All of us went out for dinner and returned late at night. But throughout, someone or the other kept reminding us that we were actually the champions,” India team physiotherapist Sumansh Sivalanka said.
“The players did not take the gold medal off for a moment. They kept it with them all through the night and slept with them [around their necks] as well.”