The system in the BAI is now more open, says Jwala Gutta

With former badminton players being appointed as coaches and advisors, the 33-year-old feels confident about realizing her goals with the BAI.

Jwala: 'My first target is to have at least four pairs of quality doubles players'.   -  PTI

India’s best-ever women’s doubles shuttler, G. Jwala, says that she will take a call soon about her playing career even as she has been named as one of the women’s doubles coaches  by the Badminton Association of India (BAI).

“I have not yet retired from competitive circuit but very soon will take a final decision in this regard as the focus shifts to coaching and I am grateful to the BAI president for entrusting me with this huge responsibility,” 33-year-old Jwala says in an exclusive interview with Sportstar on Monday.

“I do believe that the system in the BAI is now more open - thanks to the new president Himanta Biswa Sarma chief, and is welcome to any constructive suggestions and even criticism. This is what I have been fighting for years but was always looked down by some of the critics,” she says.

“Badminton is a growing sport in India in all aspects and the focus should not be on just a few privileged players. There has to be a holistic approach, taking care of the needs of all the players.  I repeat my emphasis will be on doubles which has been ignored for long for reasons best known to the powers-that-be then."

"For instance, even in a national camp there are only a few handful of doubles players. So, there is an urgent need to scout talent across the country which is not happening right now and I am ready for whatever the BAI chief wants me to do,” the 14-times national doubles champion (in mixed and women’s doubles) explained.

“My first target is to have at least four pairs of quality doubles players in the next four years. Frankly, we (she and Sruthi Kurien and then Ashwini Ponnappa) have set standards and the new crop of players to be groomed have to do better. Right now they are underperforming, winning an International Challenge should not be the last thing” says the 2011 World Championship women’s doubles bronze medallist.

Questioned whether she is confident of realizing her goals now, Jwala feels that the new system being evolved with so many former players like Arvind Bhat, Dipankar being appointed as coaches and Arif Sir as advisor, is very encouraging. “It is always better late than never,” she added.

“Good all those who gave so much to the country are being given a chance to give something back to the sport,” the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist (with Ashwini) said.

“The target of the BAI now is to have an army of talented shuttlers who are ready to step into the shoes of seniors when the need arises. And, I am confident that I can contribute in a big way,” Jwala said.

On the issue of working with Gopi Chand, chief national coach, Jwala says she always respected him as a player and as a coach. “But again, I expect him to support me in my cause for the ultimate goal of everyone in BAI is to produce champions,” she signed off.