Coaches, not administrators should run sports: Gopichand

Chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand called for a fundamental shift in the way sports are run in the country, asking for coaches to be put in charge of the system instead of others. "For a player to develop, coaches need control," said Gopichand at the GoSports Foundation Conclave on domestic coaching and support systems on Saturday.

The 42-year-old former All England champion also opined that a coach’s identity shouldn’t depend on a player’s success. File picture.   -  K. RAMESH BABU

Chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand called for a fundamental shift in the way sports are run in the country, asking for coaches to be put in charge of the system instead of others.

“For a player to develop, coaches need control,” said Gopichand at the GoSports Foundation Conclave on domestic coaching and support systems on Saturday. “Administrators, the press, the players and nowadays even judiciary are all placed above the coach. One has to go and bow to the stadium in-charge, the gym instructors and so on. I feel the coaches should drive the entire system.”

Seeking to point out what such organised coaching can achieve, Gopichand spoke about the current scene in Indian badminton.

“We have three men in the top-15 and two women in the top-10. Now people say ok. But before all of this happened, everybody expected us to aim for a medal only in 2032!”

“All we need to do is to put a decent system in place around the players. They will shine. I never trained abroad. I didn’t want to also. If I could do it in India in spite all the constraints, I am sure, with more facilities, everybody can do.

“The fundamental shift that I see is in the Indian psyche, where earlier five per cent of the athletes going to the Olympics used to think of winning. Now 95 per cent do.”

The 42-year-old former All England champion also opined that a coach’s identity shouldn’t depend on a player’s success.

“The Dronacharya award more or less goes to coaches who train Olympic athletes. So a coach holds on to a player (forever). The problem comes because the grass-roots, intermediary and advanced levels are seen as one above the other. They aren’t. They are parallel. An excellent grass-roots level coach is as important as the advanced one. Can the best of primary school teachers train you for a PhD?”

Later, in a panel discussion on excellence in coaching, Vijay Divecha, coach of Anirban Lahiri and Chikkarangappa, said a coach’s job was to prepare players for a level he is expected to reach and not necessarily dwell on where he or she has come from.

While Aparna Popat, nine-time national badminton champion, spoke on what endears a coach to a player, Nihar Ameen, the swimming coach, spoke on the challenges one faces while dealing with players at different stages of their careers. Senior sports journalist Sharda Ugra offered a ring-side view of coach-player relationship.