Rajiv Ouseph insists his Team Derby outfit cannot afford to take their foot off the gas as they aim to successfully defend their National Badminton League title.

Ouseph was the skipper in a tense final that saw Derby win 3-2 against Loughborough Sport last season– the triple Commonwealth Games medallist winning his match against Henri Hurskainen en rotue.

This time around Team Derby will be looking for more success but, after seeing several teams strengthen their ranks, Ouseph is sure it will be no easy feat.

However, he says he is relishing the prospect of leading from the front and wants to impart all his wisdom on the young troops.

“I’m Team Derby captain again this year,” Ouseph said. “I was really proud to be asked last season to be the captain, I think probably age had something to do with it having had a few experiences of international tournaments and stuff like that.

“It was for me to pass on a little bit of experience for the younger players. When there is a little bit of pressure on them, give them a word or two here and there.

“It’s a role I quite enjoy and hopefully next year I can do a good job as well.

“The celebrations were good. It was a good day for our fans, with a lot of them managing to travel down for the finals.

“I think it was really for them that we managed to put a good performance on. We really enjoyed that day but now it’s another season so we’re going to have to look again into being a good solid team for this year.”

It is set to be a busy year for Ouseph with Olympic qualification up for grabs but he insists he is up for the challenge.

“It has been a busy summer,” he added. “We’re on the Olympic qualifying year at the moment so we’ve had a lot of tournaments. We’ve been to Asia three or four times.

“I’ve had some good results, I’ve had a couple of quarter finals of the Superseries tournaments which is good going.

“There’s a European tour of international tournaments coming up so I’ll be going to Denmark, France and to Germany and then the NBL kicks off as well. It’s a really exciting and busy time for us.

“At the moment I’m in a qualifying position for the Olympics so if I can maintain that I’ll be very happy with that.

“My aim is to get in the top 16 ranking and that guarantees you a place in the Olympics so that’s what I’m looking towards. And then just trying to improve my consistency.”

© Sportsbeat 2015