Gopichand: 'Reputed and qualified coaches required'

"The whole idea is to have coaches, it would be great if they are former players, who know what exactly a player needs to step into the next level. It is not just setting up Academies that will be the solution to this crucial subject," said Gopichand.

Gopichand wants to put in place quality coaches who can take care of the growing demand from the budding talent across India.   -  V.V. Subrahmanyam

India’s chief national badminton coach, Pullela Gopichand, is on a different mission now! Well, for someone who won almost every award given to outstanding sportspersons and coaches in the country, the articulate Gopi says what the sport needs now badly is to develop a coaching system which should produce more champions.

READ: >P. V. Sindhu Interview

“We are essentially looking at a system which is not person-dependent. We need to have reputed and qualified coaches in most of the cities for better results,” says Gopi in an exclusive interview with Sportstar as he looks back at what believes to be a “great 2016”.

“Yes, it does mean more and more former players taking up coaching assignments with all seriousness and not just looking at short-term benefits. For instance, I have brought national champion Arun Vishnu into coaching now. He is in charge of doubles and is already doing a wonderful job. So, is the case with Pradnya Gadre whom I requested to be more serious into coaching,” Gopi explained.

“The whole idea is to have coaches, it would be great if they are former players, who know what exactly a player needs to step into the next level. It is not just setting up Academies that will be the solution to this crucial subject,” argues the 43-year-old Dronacharya.

Were there any changes you had to make in the big year of Olympics? “Yes. The preparations had to be different as all the best players who made the cut for Rio were fully prepared. It is not like a Super Series event where someone like Lin Dan, Carolina Marin will go that extra yard having won, say a World championship, an Olympic medal and even the All England Series,” he recalls.

“The three key reasons for Indian shuttlers’ success now are confidence, self-belief and staying match-fit,” Gopi says. “Fortunately, I had the time and we (referring to P.V. Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth) made better use of that. I am immensely satisfied with both Sindhu and Srikanth (quarterfinalist) in Rio,” he felt.

What kind of sacrifices you had to make to produce such champions? “I won’t use such big words and I feel it is wrong to say that. For, we got much more than the so-called sacrifices we made. I must thank all the players for responding so well without any complaints,” Gopi explains.

“And, here I would like to remind those interested in coaching that whatever results we are getting now are not sudden. It takes at least eight years to produce champions at the highest level. This is what I look for from those genuinely interested in coaching,” he pointed out.

What impresses you the most about Sindhu? “Not just the confidence but the great finish she ensured in Rio (won the silver medal). And, most importantly post-Olympics show is equally important. She did not get stuck in the rut and make the critics look at Rio silver as a one-off performance,” the badminton guru said. “She has been really consistent thereafter too winning China Open, making it to the Hong Kong final and then beating Rio gold medallist Marin in Dubai BWF Super Series before losing in the semis. A great year for her by any standards,” the former All England champion said.

“Yes, when we talk about Indian men shuttlers, they can definitely be more consistent and start winning titles. But, at the same time, I am glad that someone like the Vermas (Sourabh and Sameer) are making it to the finals regularly. Well, winning titles is now the next big target and I am confident things will be different in this regard next year as we are already working really hard to see they step into a different zone,” observes Gopi.

What about focus on doubles? “Let me remind that it takes long time to have quality players like those who made a huge impact on the sport. I must say we are really working hard in this regard too if you see the way Arun has been working. I see a very good future in this department too,” feels Gopi. “We are grateful to both the Government of India and the Sports Authority of India for all their wonderful support or else it would not have been possible to get these results,” he says.

Which was a more satisfying Olympics — 2016 Rio or 2012 London? “Performance wise and the kind of impact the result has on the sport it has to be Sindhu’s silver. She set the whole nation’s adrenalin flowing with her vintage performance and we could already feel the impact on the young kids taking up sport across India,” reveals Gopi.

What are your goals? “I would repeat putting in place quality coaches who can take care of the growing demand from the budding talent across India,” signs off Gopi.