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From field to desk: Daanish’s insights on sports and success | National Sports Day

Team StoryWeavers|August 28, 2023, 12:33 IST|
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“Today on National Sports Day, I would like to highlight that sports is an effective way to foster mental well-being for me. Apart from tried-and-tested methods like journaling or seeking mental health assistance, individuals must engage in sports for better emotional health.”

Meet Daanish Suhail, Senior Product Manager, who brings the energy of the playing field to the heart of our workplace at BYJU’S. In this exclusive National Sports Day interview, we delve into his world, where he weaves the values of sportsmanship, camaraderie, and resilience, into his life at BYJU’S

Beyond his role as a Senior Product Manager, he is an avid sports enthusiast, who started young as an athlete and embraced hockey, football, cricket, and even rugby. Notably, Daanish previously co-founded one of the biggest sports community platforms in India. Presently, he excels in Ultimate Frisbee on a professional level. Join us as we gain insights into his journey, experiences, and the remarkable impact of sports on his personal and professional growth.

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Tell us about your journey that led to BYJU’S.

I’ve been with Aakash BYJU’S for the past year and a half as Senior Product Manager of Growth. I also oversee the assessment platform, known as the W Quiz platform, which handles a wide range of quizzes and assessments across our extensive edtech platform. BYJU’S unique teaching approach led to an immediate connection, I always wanted to make lasting changes for future generations through education

During my childhood, studying was as enjoyable as playing. My interest in subjects like physics and chemistry went beyond grades, shaped by a teacher from tuition classes. BYJU’S commitment to scaling effective teaching resonated with me, especially for learners struggling with abstract concepts

Can you share a memorable sports-related experience that influences you even today? 

Education has been highly revered in my family, and concurrently, sports has also been profoundly significant. My mother’s literary achievements have illuminated the path of education, setting a remarkable example. Similarly, my father’s fervour for football has continued our family’s sporting tradition, with his representation of Karnataka in football. While my genetic predisposition might play a role, my true passion for sports developed organically.

One instance that comes to mind is when I was in the ninth grade, I ran 200 meters despite having a fever. I was in the finals, competing for a medal. Even though the school permitted students not to attend or participate due to illness, I sneaked out, ran the race, and returned home with the medal. While my father wasn’t exactly thrilled with my audacious act, he recognised the spirit of determination in my actions. That’s the power of sports – it drives you with a passion that transcends conditions.

Considering your work commitments, how do you incorporate sports into your daily routine?

I’m actively involved in two sports currently. I play Ultimate Frisbee at a professional level for a club. We participate in tournaments all across the country and have even ventured further, competing in the Philippines and the United States. I used to play four days a week, but now it’s down to once or twice.

Additionally, there’s another pursuit, which isn’t a sport per se, but I love it! I’m an avid motorcyclist, particularly interested in off-roading. During the weekends, maybe once or twice a month, I set off on my motorcycle to explore unconventional paths, seeking out challenging trails to navigate. Although it’s not competitive, it’s a cherished hobby that I thoroughly enjoy. 

Have you ever faced challenges in balancing your professional responsibilities with your passion for sports? How did you overcome them?

Playing sports is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s an exceptional stress reliever, a personal therapy where you can shed the day’s weight and pressure. However, it has another aspect that can’t be ignored—the potential for injuries and fatigue. There are times when I wake up early for a game, only to return and tackle a full workday. Creating this balance requires prioritisation and is undoubtedly challenging. Despite this, I firmly believe that the advantages of sports outweigh the drawbacks.

Furthermore, there’s a limit to the emotions you can channel. After releasing everything on the field, you tend to approach work more composed. Those who know me at work see me as calm and collected, and not prone to losing my temper. The secret sauce? Any and all  “explosions” happen outside of work! 

As a senior product designer, what role does teamwork play in fostering camaraderie within BYJU’S? 

In Ultimate Frisbee, effective communication is paramount on the field, extending beyond the game itself. Even from the sidelines, negative words or criticism towards a teammate’s mistake are frowned upon, emphasising controlled language and tone. Your expression, from the pitch of your voice to the exact words you use, undergoes scrutiny, making communication a key takeaway from the sport.

Furthermore, teamwork is a priceless lesson across sports. It becomes evident that victory can’t be achieved single-handedly; the strengths of each player must be harnessed while acknowledging collective weaknesses. Playing football for an hour reveals that success isn’t guaranteed solely by continuous running; strategic positioning and understanding individual and team capabilities lead to triumph. This comprehension of teamwork and strategy resonates in various life aspects, whether in career or personal pursuits.

Lastly, sports prepare you for managing failure. Losses are more common than wins, mirroring life’s pattern. The daily practice and match setbacks foster resilience, making you capable of confronting significant blows. Instead of bowing down in the face of unexpected defeat, if you get together with your team and plan your next move, it showcases your ability to handle both victories and setbacks. Isn’t this an invaluable skill gained from sports?

How do you believe participating in sports enhances your overall well-being, including mental health?

National Sports Day

Sports can significantly contribute to maintaining mental health. For me, sports has played a monumental role in maintaining my mental stability. It’s not a cure-all, but rather an incredibly effective way to foster mental well-being. Apart from conventional methods like journaling or talking to others, when individuals engage in sports, it acts as a powerful tool to promote mental health. 

Often, mental health struggles can escalate when emotions are kept bottled up inside, leading to toxicity within oneself. This is where sports come into play, offering a platform for expression. This process becomes a form of catharsis, allowing you to release pent-up feelings and express yourself. After a game, although you might be physically tired, you also experience a sense of relief. You’ve shed a lot of emotional baggage on the field, and this newfound lightness equips you with the energy to face the challenges of the day. 

Can you highlight a particular lesson or value you’ve learnt from sports that you apply in your work? 

Firstly, in sports, you come to terms with the fact that losing is always a possibility. Secondly, it’s about taking responsibility for your decisions. Whether it’s selecting a certain player or opting for a specific strategy, if the outcome isn’t favourable, being accountable for those choices and standing by them is vital. These two principles have proven to be incredibly significant, not just in sports but also in my professional life.

As we celebrate National Sports Day, how do you think organisations should further promote a culture of fitness and physical activity among employees?

Corporate outings have transformed over time, evolving into sports-oriented events. Teams now partake in football and badminton matches, and other activities, promoting team bonding effectively. I recommend teams consider increasing the frequency of these activities from quarterly or monthly to weekly or bi-weekly. This enables team members to get to know each other beyond the workplace, irrespective of their expertise in a particular sport.

Even our founder, Byju Raveendran himself, an avid football fan, supports this approach. I suggest encouraging every team to hold their own scheduled sports sessions. Fortunately, our office has a terrace with turf on the 14th floor of Tower D at IBC Knowledge Park, providing a convenient space for various sports activities. Post-work on selected Fridays at 6 PM, a group of us, mainly from the BYJU’S content team, reserves the ground for a friendly game. 

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This National Sports Day, let’s acknowledge the profound influence of sports on individuals and communities. Stories like Daanish’s underscore the valuable lessons and mental well-being that sports offer. They teach teamwork, resilience, and the joy of pushing boundaries. Whether you’re an athlete or a casual player, let’s embrace the spirit of sports

Do you have a sport that you absolutely love playing? Let us know in the comments below! 

Like what you read? Head to Life at BYJU’S to learn more about our work, people, and the stories that make us unique. To explore job opportunities, check out Careers at BYJU’S

About the Author

I'm Naqshib Nisar aka the Ministry of Happiness. A digital journalist who can write anything under the sun. When I'm not writing, I'm definitely discovering hidden gems of a city or exploring the food culture. Being a language enthusiast, I grasp words from songs I don't really understand. I'm mostly in the procaffeinating mode because coffee comes first. Hit me up if you ever want to find the best cappuccino and croissants in Bangalore.

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