Sports in India can grow only if it is tuned to an environment where the development is ‘system supported, coach led and athlete centric’, said the former All England champion and national badminton coach, P. Gopichand.

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“For any sport to come up in India, it should be system supported, coach led and athlete centric,” Gopichand said during a book release programme here on Tuesday.

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“It is always people first, programmes next. Infrastructure and facilities come third. Sometimes in our enthusiasm to build sport quickly we start with infrastructure first and that’s why we have had great stadiums without any players being produced. But if we have great coaches, we do not need great facilities to produce players,” the coach, who had placed India on top of excellence in international badminton, added.

Elaborating on flaws besieging sport in the country, Gopicand stressed on the need to have a mature system to understand sport properly.

“We are very administrative driven at many places. Sometimes when players become successful, the development initiative becomes successful athlete led. Again successful athlete-centric programmes turn out to be disasters,” he said.

“We need a mature system to understand sport. We need to integrate all our systems together to make sure sport goes to the next level. We are a little far away from that,” the coach, who trained Olympic medallists P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, tried to analyse the problem plaguing Indian sports.

“We need to agree on a common philosophy. We are both here and there. We find corporates, schools, sports federations, NGOs, Governments working for development but all of it is happening independently. Every time anyone invests in sport we need to think is it part of a plan. When we bunch these stuff, we will come to a system which becomes sustainable, till then we will probably have individual sparks,” Gopichand specified.

Gopichand refused to be dragged into the controversy surrounding clash between Sindhu and Sania.

“If it helps their performance, I am happy.”

About his own daughter Gayatri, who won double crown in Junior Grand Prix in Jakarta, Gopichand preferred to reserve his comments. “It is too early to say she (Gayatri) is next best thing. She is good but its too early but I am happy she enjoys the sport,” he said.

Gopichand held out hope for the reigning women's champion Rituparna Das.

“She (Rituparna) is in the top fifty (in the world). It is a good position to be behind Saina and Sindhu. She is the next highest ranked players in the country. There is still time when she can reach the top ten in the world. I am sure she is somebody who is working hard and will have success in the future,” the national coach said.