One often hears cricketers complaining of hectic schedules, but the advent of the Indian Badminton League is throwing up similar challenges for shuttlers who have been getting a taste of the IPL-like schedules over the past couple of weeks.
And one man, busier than the players themselves, is national coach Pullela Gopichand who is also a member of the IBL Governing Council.
He has been on a whirlwind tour of the venues that are hosting IBL matches, but the former All England champion cut a relaxed figure when MiD DAY caught up with him.
Gopi sir, as he is fondly called by his protégés, believes the IBL is amongst the best things that could have happened to Indian badminton.
That apart, fans are keenly following the progress of two of his best-known pupils, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu, and there’s no one better placed to provide an insight into the two who have put India firmly on the world badminton map.
So what does he make of the personalities of his two star players? “Both of them are strong in their own way. Both train really hard and never complain about the work load,” said Gopichand. “Having said that, they are different personalities.
Saina is serious and not given to talking so much, whereas Sindhu is younger and always chatting away and smiling. Both approach their matches in different ways as well.
“Saina has her own analysis of players, while Sindhu is still not that experienced. But more importantly, both players now have the self-belief that they can challenge the best players in the world.”
Gopichand is also happy with the way some other players, especially on the men’s circuit are evolving. “The future is safe. Today, the story is not just about Sindhu and Saina, but players like K Srikant who won the Thailand GP Gold, P Kashyap who was the winner at Indian GP Gold and very unfortunate not to win a medal at the World Championships.
The likes of Saurabh Verma, HS Pranoy, Sai Praneeth and Gurusai Dutt have been doing very well too. I can tell you, no player in the world can take our players lightly. They have already scalped some of the best in the business and it will not be long before they start winning major titles.”
Coming back to IBL, Gopichand said: “The impact IBL will have on Indian badminton will be huge as far as the future is concerned. I mean, just imagine, you have coaches like Rashid Sidek here. What talented players like Sai Praneeth are learning from him must be priceless.
“We have so many young players rubbing shoulders with legends like Lee Chong Wei, Tine Baun and Taufik Hidayat. Sitting in the same dug-out, sparring in practice for almost 20 days, where and how would these youngsters have got a chance to learn from these players? I am convinced the league will change Indian badminton.”