Add more sting to attack, develop a good finishing stroke and step up the pace: these are the three things that former India chief coach U. Vimal Kumar wants the country’s young women shuttlers to work on to produce results at international level.
Vimal, who served as India’s chief national coach from 2003 to 2006, said the upcoming women’s singles players have the ability to do well but they should not be compared with the likes of Saina Nehwal or PV Sindhu.
“Suddenly I can see a spurt in women’s singles players, we can’t be comparing them with Saina or Sindhu but they can easily come up with more exposure to international events,” the 59-year-old told PTI on the sidelines of the selection trials at the KD Jadhav Hall inside IG Stadium Complex.
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“At the moment, even internationally the standard is not high. See the Carolina Marins, Nozomi Okuharas and Tai Tzu Yings – all are approaching the finishing line.
“Among the young ones, Korea’s An Seyoung is good but even Chinese girls are not too impressive, they are getting injured all the time, so we need to have hope.” The selection trials are being conducted by the Badminton Association of India (BAI) to pick the teams for the upcoming Thomas & Uber Cup (May 8-15, Bangkok), Commonwealth Games (July 28-August 8, Birmingham) and Asian Games ( Hangzhou, September 10-25).
Vimal, a national selector, said it would take time for women shuttlers to show results unless they develop more “sharpness” in their game.
“I feel all of them need to develop a good finishing stroke. They are all playing rallies, they need to create better openings,” he said.
“It is too simple with drops and pushes, you got to play the quick shots and with more pace. You need that sting in their shots. It will come if they go and play in Europe. These challengers and series events are tough in Europe. . ”
Vimal, a Dronacharya awardee, added: “In singles, India have about 10 players, the good ones, who can come into the top 50 in world ranking in next one year.
“Kiran George, Priyanshu Rajawat and Mithun Manjunath, those three are slowly making decent mark, also Meiraba Maisnam has good scope.”
Having coached some of the top stars in Indian badminton such as Saina, Parupalli Kashyap and Lakshya Sen, Vimal feels the BAI needs to be more proactive and invest in the youth.
“The key is to make them play challenger and international series tournaments. Send them for exposure tournaments. You can’t keep them here. Government is giving a lot but BAI now has to invest in them.
“All these U-16, U-17 and U-19 players, COVID-19 has affected them a lot. They were graduating to the next level but they couldn’t play. It is a tough phase for the young players.
“So BAI needs to send them for international challenger and series. The exposure tours for the younger lot is a must. Players need to play in smaller circuit and build up the confidence. We also need to identify new centers and support them.” A bronze medallist in the men’s team event at the 1986 Asian Games, Vimal feels BAI should invite the next generation of players from other nations to play in India, something which will help in building more awareness about the game.
“BAI has to be more professional. Other nations like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, there under-19 players can be invited. We need to have Test series with them in smaller towns in Chattisgarh or Patna or Assam.
“Small towns lose out when big events are held in India but such events in interior places like Kerela, Maharashtra or Karnataka, where there is good talent pockets can really help. Invite all these countries.
“We can’t be focusing on a few sets of players only,” he signed off.