'It's important to look good'
Sharmila Nicollet, the 21-year-old golfer who has proved her mettle in the sport in the international and the national arena, has been receiving praises from all quarters. The only Indian golfer to hold the European tour card, she has now set eyes on the upcoming LPGA tour.
Bubbly and bright, the stylish golfer wants to be the face of golf in the country. She feels that parents should encourage children to take up sports as it helps in the holistic development of the child. “I have been playing golf since the age of ten and love the sport. It is mentally challenging as well as stimulating. I want to emulate someone like Saina Nehwal, who has revolutionised badminton and given it a facelift. She is more like the youth icon of the game and that is what I want to do for golf as well. I feel we need a big win internationally in terms of golf and that will help bring about a change in the mindset of the people,” she adds.
The fact that cricket is the most dominant game in the country has often bothered the sports fraternity. Sharmila feels that it talks a lot about the government and the importance they give to sports in this country. “Golf is a high-end sport and all this hype about cricket makes it really difficult for people like us. It is an expensive sport and even now, I only have two sponsors on board. It is a challenge for me to manage my expenses with a handful of sponsors. What we need is good sponsorship so that talented people can continue to be a part of the sport. I can recount incidents where budding golfers, who were extremely talented, could not continue as they did not have financial backing,” she points out.
“Look at China — they breed athletes and the parents there are so encouraging. Here, of course, it’s a different ball game and the mindset is completely different. But the tide is changing and I can see many children taking up sports. I feel sports should be made a compulsory subject so that every youngster gets a chance to explore his capabilities — not only in terms of academics but also in terms of the sport of their choice,” she explains.
She is quick to add that it is also a matter of choice for the youngsters. “I was a good student and studied at Bishop Cottons and then Bangalore International School. I had received scholarships in various foreign universities but decided against it and focussed on playing golf. I don’t regret my decision at all. My parents and my team have been extremely supportive,” she says.
One of the most stylish golfers in the country, she takes pride in being dressed up during tournaments. “While most of the other sportsmen go plain Jane during the matches, you can spot me all colour-coordinated from head to toe, with pink nail-paint and bright colours. I like it that way and feel it adds a lot glamour to the sport. If it attracts the sponsors and makes some heads turn, it is good for the sport eventually. If the spokesperson has looks on his or her side it attracts attention. It is important to look good — it is the 21st century and it is good to portray the sexy side of sports. My only advice to youngsters is to look smart and play smart,” she sums up with a bright smile.