In a first live interaction with people after 2 years of pandemic that gripped the globe, Leander Paes sat down face-to-face with IndiaJoy 2021 participants at Hyderabad, for a candid fireside chat and shared his journey of 30 years. His latest love and passion is esports. He began his chat saying esports is the next big thing, as he believes it is a sport that builds hand-eye coordination, and can make great champions of this sport from India.
To a question what is the secret to his longevity? Leander was quick to say “Passion patriotism hard work and a little bit of “crazy inside” is what you need to achieve excellence.”
With esports (electronic sports) set to make its debut at the Asian Games 2022, ace tennis player Leander Paes is betting big on Indian sportspersons excelling in games under the esports category and bringing home medals.
“I think that esports is a fabulous vehicle for India to excel. I believe that 70% to 80% of the talent in sports in India is untapped because they are in the rural areas. I feel that our children in the metros have gotten much more used to stay indoors using smart gadgets…,”
Paes said this at a fireside chat on the inaugural day of IndiaJoy 2021. Paes pointed out what could work in India’s favour is that Indians are good at eye-hand coordination, which is a key trait required for esports.
As per the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), in the upcoming Asian games, medals will be awarded in eight games in the esports category — FIFA, an Asian Games version of PUBG Mobile, Arena of Valor, Dota 2, League of Legends, Dream Three Kingdoms 2, HearthStone and Street Fighter V. OCA had said that 24 medals can be won in esports in 2022.
The tennis ace Leander Paes pointed out that esports will help youth imbibe some of the key life skills. “I think what you can take from physical sports to esports is leadership, camaraderie, teamwork …your children who are actually sitting indoors nowadays are not interacting with many people like my generation did …but through gaming you can motivate them to communicate, you can teach them leadership and how to handle defeat and victory,” he said.
e-sports is so relevant to my growing up – Says Leander Paes
Narrating his own life experience of how playing video games helped him hone his tennis skills, Paes said that in the 1980s, his father would give him Rs 100 daily and ask him to play video games at a gaming parlour in Kolkata. In those days, each video game cost Rs 1.
“I played 100 video games every single day and after three months I got so bored of video games that I came back to my dad and said you keep that money as my hands are tired of playing video games. He said no son, you don’t realise that by playing video games, you are developing eye-hand coordination,” he said, adding that he had one of the fastest hands in the game because of playing video games, especially Pac-Man.
I feel that my generation we had to turn on thinking we were more about playing outdoor sports, we didn’t have the opportunities back then actually to have such wonderful things like esports and games like speed chess, esports cricket that are so amazing I think that esports coming into the Asian games is fantastic do not be surprised if India wins medals gold silver and bronze medals in esports, do not be surprised he says again.