Gopichand launches new Academy

SAI-Gopichand Academy, with nine courts and boarding facilities, has a long-term agreement with the SAI which will help shuttlers get exposure at the national and international level.

Pullela Gopichand and his wife P.V.V. Lakshmi are all smiles after the formal inauguration of the SAI-Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad on Tuesday.   -  V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

India’s chief national badminton coach, Pullela Gopichand, has taken his passion to his job to a new level with the formal inauguration of his new Rs 7.5 crore training hub — SAI-Gopichand Academy — at Gachibowli on Tuesday.

This is in addition to the existing facility which has been considered to be among the best badminton academy for many years now.

Why the new Academy? “This was conceptualised 18 months ago for the simple reason of producing more players of repute and also because of the tremendous response. A lot of them showed great promise,” said Gopi, who was dressed in traditional dhoti after the puja ceremony.

Training schedule

“It is not like the juniors will be at the old academy and the seniors here. In fact, to make the players get the feel of different environment, we have decided to shuffle the training schedule of all including seniors, national campers between these two Academies,” the former All England champion explained.

“I must acknowledge the support of Sports Authority of India in raising this new Academy building with nine courts and boarding facilities. We have a long-term agreement with the SAI regarding training and exposure to the shuttlers performing at the national and international level (both seniors and juniors). Effectively, all national campers will be in this Academy,” the 42-year-old said.

What exactly is the difference between the existing and the new Academy? “Nothing major, except that this is a new facility. And we definitely will take care of the areas which were not given the priority. It is not just the player facilities but also the atmosphere in which the players train that is important,” the champion shuttler of yesteryears said.

Focus on doubles

“Yes, the focus will be more on doubles henceforth. And, it doesn’t mean the singles will be ignored. We are working out a long-term programme to take care of doubles and ensure that India is a force to reckon with in team events in the big league,” Gopi explained.

“This Academy should ensure all the important ingredients of a training programme are self-sufficient. We are making conscious efforts to ensure that there is no scope for any complaints by anyone as was the case with the old one,” the Rajiv Khel Ratna Awardee said.

Gopi admitted that it was really taxing for him to satisfy the needs and aspirations of the players, the coaches and the support staff. “But, the best part is that I am enjoying every bit of it. And, if I am not happy on a given day, I tend to look for another related subject to spend some time on and then get back to the key job of coaching to stay focussed,” Gopi, who starts his work at the Academy by 4.30 am everyday, said.

“The whole idea is to build a system to make things happen. I am glad that things are falling in place in that direction. The core area of focus is keeping the coaches updated on the training patterns, imparting latest knowledge related to various subjects of the game. We have to look a long way ahead and start planning big,” signed off Gopi.

Earlier, Governor of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh E.S.L. Narasimhan graced the formal inauguration and lauded Gopi and his family members for their passion towards the game.