Need to improve infrastructure: Gopichand
Indian badminton is currently enjoying a bull run, thanks to splendid performances by a host of players. And the credit for this ascent should largely go to national coach Pullela Gopichand, who has virtually played a single-handed role in the rise of players like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, P Kashyap and Guru Sai Dutt.
Gopichand, the former All England champion, is in the city for the Mumbai leg of the Indian Badminton League (IBL) and is happy at the progress the country’s youngsters have made.
Nevertheless, he feels, it’s high time India begins focusing its energy on developing world-class badminton infrastructure. “In Guangzhou (China where the recent World Championships were held) alone, there are 1,700 badminton courts, whereas in Mumbai there must be around 50. So infrastructure is a must and it needs to be developed in tandem with good coaches and equipment,” he said.
“Courtesy the Commonwealth Games and National Games, places like Delhi and Hyderabad have decent infrastructure. There is massive interest in badminton and the IBL should help in taking the sport forward in the country,” he added. “To create a pool of talented players what India needs is a 1000-fold improvement in infrastructure,” said the coach, who is also a member of the IBL governing council.
Praising the refurbished National Sports Club Of India’s (NSCI) Sardar Vallabhbhai Stadium badminton courts, he insisted that such facilities should be present in every vicinity.
“There needs to be more public-private partnerships. Stadiums like these (NSCI) should be there in every vicinity. A person staying in Santacruz cannot be expected to go to Bombay Gymkhana to train everyday.”
Elaborating on this issue, Gopichand said: “There is a rule framed by the government which states that whenever a plot of land is auctioned, 40% of it should be kept aside for gardens, sporting infrastructure, schools and hospitals.
“But that never happens as builders are hardly interested in developing sporting infrastructure. This needs to be rectified as it’s not fair on those people who are interested in taking up sports. It’s as if sheep are pitted against an elephant. Sporting infrastructure should be given priority and the public should be allowed to use it for free or at a nominal cost.”