The Sports Entrepreneur: Anjali’s Story

Changing the game – Anjali’s journey from being an engineer to a sports entrepreneur.

It all started when Anjali was in class 1. Like how in most Indian households, parents would put their children in different things when they grow up, Anjali’s parents did too. Among the many things, one of them happened to be sports.  

And like most kids, she was taking part in it all, just to have fun.

“My dad kept taking me to all these badminton tournaments, and in one such event, coach Manoj Sahibjan spotted me. That’s where it all started,” the now civil engineer turned co-owner and coach of an adult’s badminton academy says.

Little did anyone know that the rest of Anjali Satish’s life would be shaped by the fastest racquet sport in the world. She says she owes all her success in this field to her father, mother and her coach for she had found her true calling. 

Growing up, Anjali looked up to P.T. Usha for all her inspiration and still does. “She’s always been a role model. She was ahead of everyone’s time and for a woman to achieve such great feats in that day and age, to be a household name, was and is truly something else.” 

Perhaps that explains Anjali’s tryst with athletics!

She had been involved with sports most of her life, being part of cricket teams as well.

It’s safe to say that she eats, sleeps and breathes sports; she snuck out of home to take part in a cricket tournament while being advised to rest due to a hairline fracture!

The injury worsened, and her rest period in turn became longer. Though things worked out in her favour then, she says she’d never advise anyone to do it. “Parents, I hope you’re not reading this,” she laughs while revisiting her childhood sports memories.  

The professional racquet sports player even had a game ritual growing up. “For the longest time, I used to arrange my racquets in a specific order, wear my lucky socks, lucky shoes, lucky T-shirt before going for tournaments. Many years later, I lost a major tournament wearing all this stuff.”

And she’s sure she didn’t wear the wrong pair of socks either!

All that paraphernalia is now packed and kept aside to cherish the yesteryears in the future. Now like any enlightened master, she knows that there are many things that can go against your favour despite having a sacred process. And like any enlightened master, she’s grateful for that realisation. 

Now as a sports entrepreneur, she spends her time in her academy in JP.Nagar (Bangalore) day in and day out. “My day starts early and I come here in the morning for my coaching classes which go on till late in the evening.”

But to build this academy up from scratch was no easy feat. 

There were many challenges the then new sports entrepreneur faced!

“To change my career path from being an engineer to a sports entrepreneur was a huge decision and one that took a lot of thought and convincing,” she says. “But that was only the beginning of the problem. I was only 21 and most people couldn’t take a woman as their badminton coach seriously. I have always been coaching adults and they tend to have a competitive spirit rather than a learning mentality when they start out.

While these factors let me down, I remembered what my teammate and friend, Nivya Uday, had told me before a match when I was nervous – ‘Not a word from the people outside the court matters. It’s all about you – what you want and how you want it.’

While there were a million things telling me not to pursue this path, I mustered all my courage and decided to do this. And luckily for me, the support from my business partner and co-owner of the academy, Dynee Fernandes, was unwavering. Unlike many around me, my age didn’t matter to him. He saw my talent and how passionate I was about sharing my talent. Him putting these two factors above everything else and believing in me shaped who I am as a coach and helped me in leading the academy.”

But just having a strong support system is not enough to change the societal inhibitions lurking around you. To turn that around, you have to put real results on the table.  And that’s what she did.

“Once my students started improving their game, winning small matches, once they started accepting the idea that they could learn from me, that’s when things started changing. From there it was only a matter of time before everything started falling into place,” she smiles. 

ANjali’s students

When it comes to women in the field of sports itself, she says the recent years have seen much of a positive change.

“There are so many women sports players,

“There are so many women sports players, marketers, fitness coaches, entrepreneurs and more in this niche industry changing the face of sports in India. It truly feels good to be contributing to the collective effort in some way, shape, or form.” she says with a smile that radiates her compassion to this field.

, fitness coaches, marketers and more in this niche industry changing the face of sports in India. It truly feels good to be contributing to the collective effort in some way, shape, or form.” she says with a smile that radiates her compassion to this field.

To the women out there thinking of taking up sports, or anything for that matter, she has this to say, “Just take the first step. I did it and I’ve been so glad I did ever since.”

Now, Shuttler’s Alley runs multiple batches for badminton coaching for all ages, day in and day out. Anjali Satish runs the place along with the help of co-owner, Dynee Rajesh Fernandes who has stood by her like a rock and backed her and encouraged her for the last 4.5 years.

Apart from dabbling with sports consultancy for major events like Indian Premier League, Legends League Cricket, AFC Women’s Asian Cup and a few of the domestic tournaments, the badminton coach also finds gaps in her tight-knit schedule and diet to have her favourite meal of all time – chicken biryani! 


Pratheek Suryadev