Indian badminton flying high on talent, says legendary coach Pullela Gopichand

Dubai: India’s legendary coach Pullela Gopichand feels badminton in the country is heading in the right direction as efforts are on to focus on the intermediate and grassroots levels to take the sport to the next stage.

“The cream of the Indian talent is now secure with plenty of funding and sponsorship. Now efforts are being made at the intermediate and grassroots levels, ”said Gopichand in an exclusive interview with Gulf News after releasing his book Shuttler’s Flick, Every Match Counts at Gulf Madhyamam Educafe in Dubai recently.

“In the last few years, thanks to government schemes like Khelo India (Play India), the landscape has started to get interesting, but it might take more time to get results. We are heading in the right direction, ”he responded to a query on why Indian shuttlers fail at the last hurdle on the world stage.

Pullela Gopichand talks about the path taken to take Indian badminton to the top of the world stage. He also spoke at length about what is the future plan and his tips to aspiring talents.
Gulf News

Indian badminton has taken giant strides in the last decade-and-a-half after Gopichand started producing champions like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Parupalli Kashyap and Srikanth Kidambi, who recently won the silver in the World Championships at Heulva in Spain in 2021.

“We have shown that Indians can achieve at the highest level in the world,” Gopichand said proudly as he reminisced about the past when just 30-50 players competed at the national level across the country.

“Those numbers have grown. Indians in the Gulf and many other countries have taken up the sport in a major way with a dream of becoming a champion, ”he added.

“We were able to make them dream. Now we need to funnel all that together and structure it to ensure that the talent and potential reach the highest level. So the effort is that direction. “

Azad Moopen, Chairperson of Aster DM Healthcare, releases Pullela Gopichand’s autobiography.
Image Credit: Clint Egbert / Gulf News

Former all-England champion Gopichand, who has been honored with top Indian sports and civilian awards like Arjuna Award, Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, Padma Shri, Dhronacharya Award and Padma Bhushan, extolled the virtues of playing sport during his interaction with the audience. .

Talking about his book, Gopichand said: “I wanted to share my experiences from today’s perspective and also what I do as a parent and what I do as a coach. I wrote about the good things I have done and learned over the years and tried to portray them in an interesting manner. “

Badminton has a huge base in UAE with many children playing the sport and many adults making it part of their healthy lifestyle.

As a tip to aspiring talent, Gopichand said: “There are different stages of development in skills. Mental strength and preparing for big challenges are also key factors for growth. Right inputs and guidance all matter in a player’s progression. “

According to Gopichand, these processes are more valuable than actually becoming a champion. “When you learn math you don’t aspire to become a Ramanujan [famed Indian mathematician]; When you learn English you don’t say I want to become Shakespeare. So just play sport passionately. Follow the process and forget about the result. Give it all you have to become a champion, it will serve you not just in sport, but in life as well. ”

Cricket’s loss is badminton’s gain

Gopichand’s first love was cricket, but due to an unforeseen incident, the famed Indian shuttler had to take up badminton.

In 1983, when cricket frenzy was at its peak after India won the Prudential World Cup in England, Gopichand was playing cricket in his neighborhood. Like any match on the streets, the shot he hit broke a window pane.

So Gopichand’s mother took him to a cricket academy. Unfortunately, they did not have any admission for cricket, but only in badminton. So that’s how Gopichand traded the bat for the racquet. The rest is history and cricket’s loss was badminton’s gain.

Gopichand also revealed another incident, which made him a better coach.

“In 2015, I threw a shuttle to a 13-year-old to catch it and throw it back to me, but the kid missed it. Annoyed with her, I told her practice more and walked away, ”Gopichand said. What happened next was a life-changing experience.

The kid came to me and said ‘teach me how to catch it’. From that day my approach changed. I realized each kid is different and it’s our duty to find the talent. That’s the fundamental difference. “

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button