PBL has transformed Indian players, says Gopi Chand

Dronacharya awardee and leading badminton coach Pullela Gopi Chand feels the Premier Badminton League has the potential to elevate the level of Indian badminton.

P. Gopi Chand (right) and Mangipudi Prasad, Executive Director, Sportzlive, at a promotional event for PBL in Dubai on Monday.   -  Special Arrangement

When everyone including the players (mandatorily) speak highly about the Premier Badminton League (PBL) and its impact on the sport, one might take it with a pinch of salt and with a touch of realism, but when Indian coach and Dronacharya awardee Pullela Gopichand talks of PBL with specific examples, you are forced to listen.

At the promotional event here on Monday, the 44-year-old narrated how the League has been a breakthrough event for doubles specialist Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and World No.10 H. S. Prannoy.

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When Sathwik was drafted into the team [Hyderabad Hunters] last year, Gopi, said there were questions raised whether he is deserving of the place, but towards the end of the league, such was the performance of the Andhra lad that he went on to play a crucial trump match.

And an unbeaten performance from Prannoy in PBL, according to Gopi, gave him the much-needed push to do well at the international level.

“Sathwik is a classic example of how things changed in a PBL season itself. A league can have a huge transformation in a player. There are many players who should take such opportunities and push their points and strongly to be heard,” said Gopi.

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Sathwik’s performance could inspire men’s doubles as a group and Prannoy’s can inspire Sai Praneeth and others. It has the potential to inspire the entire scenario of Indian badminton, opined Gopi.

The former All-England champion said the league has grown to such an extent that it has Indian stars to bank on in its third edition. “To say with a matter of pride that when we were looking at the first edition of PBL, were were looking at top players and Indians. Today, many of the top players are Indians and that gives us lot of depth in PBL. Overall we are very happy to see this year’s field and the larger interest of the sport across the country,” said Gopi.

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Mangipudi Prasad, Executive Director, Sportzlive, said the inclusion of an under-17 player in each team this year will give the youngsters enough exposure. “This time, every team has a junior (U-17) player. Watching the top Indian and foreign players will have a huge impact,” he said. The No.1 performing Olympic sport in the country, Prasad, summed up, deserves a fantastic league.

(The writer is on the invitation of Sportzlive)

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