Need to invest on coach development, says Gopichand

Indian national coach Pullela Gopichand talked about the need for a better ecosystem for coaches in the country, benefits of Premier Badminton League and Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification.

Indian badminton national team coach Pullela Gopichand.   -  S.R. Raghunathan

With badminton talent in India growing multifold and more and more Indians performing exceedingly well at the world stage, national coach Pullela Gopichand said it was a struggle to manage the players.

Talking to the media at the end of the fourth edition of Premier Badminton League, Gopichand stressed on the need to invest on coach development to keep pace with the growth, at a media interaction. 

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"We've struggled. I don't want to make any claims of not struggling to manage players because each player's level has gone up. We have players in the top 10 and 20, and then are those who are aspiring to get from top 100 to there. Players who are the best in the junior ranks are also coming up, so we have our challenges.

"We are trying to get more coaches into the ecosystem and hopefully that will change. We have spoken about coach development being a big priority but we have not succeeded in it and we are struggling because we haven't really invested in coaches as we should. There are no easy answers for it, hopefully we start investing and get results in years to come," he said.

"Coaches are not produced in terms of learning. Coaches need to be nurtured, empowered, rewarded and awarded better. The entire ecosystem for coaches need to get better. Today all these aspects need to be addressed to get good coaches," Gopichand added.

Benefits of PBL

Gopichand also spoke on the benefits of having PBL in India. "I think it helps at different levels. Those who play benefit monetarily and experience-wise. The players who are part of the team and not play get to be with these top players and that's a big thing in itself, to be part of the team and get tips from the top players," he said. 

Gopichand feels PBL will help inspire the next generation to take up the sport. PHOTO: K. MURALI KUMAR   -  K. MURALI KUMAR


"Even though players are from India, the local people never get to see them. Taking this sport to all these different cities mean the people get to see the top-class players from India, World Champions and Olympic champions. The number of people who get inspired by the sport, the number of players who want their kids to play, the general ecosystem for badminton benefits from an event like this," he said.

The national coach, meanwhile, felt there will be a mad rush of players trying to qualify for Olympics. "I've seen many qualifications go by in the last few years and I do believe that players need to take extreme care about injury prevention. They have to make sure to consistently get performances and at the end of the year, that's what matters. It will be a tough year, but hopefully we have less injuries and manage well."

He also added a word of caution. "By nature, they will expect miracles to happen and somehow get good results. It doesn't really happen. You need to be mature and clear with the plan. Obviously it's not always going to work as per plan and the back-up, whatever it is, has to be based on sound principles and not wishful thinking," he said.

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