Pullela Gopichand
Dronacharya Award winner Pullela Gopichand speaks up about the future of Badminton in India. (source: @pullelagopicha1 twitter handle)

The man behind players like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, and many more, Dronacharya Award winner Pullela Gopichand speaks up about Badminton’s future in India. he started training players like Saina, Sindhu, Kidambi Srikkant, no one at that time thought that they would come up as the world’s best.

In 2004 there were only 10 courts in Hyderabad 

Gopichand started his academy in 2004 with 25 trainers, at that time there were only 10 courts in Hyderabad, but today there are more than 1000. Gopichand during a webinar said, “I can say, this is the sport (badminton) which has developed the most in the country in these past 10 years or so. When I started my coaching career in 2004, there were just 10 good courts in Hyderabad but now there are more than 1000.”

He added, “There are so many academies coming up in the country, so many kids from all over the country, Punjab, Mizoram and even abroad coming to my academy to train with even one of the parents opting to stay in Hyderabad with the child. So there is enormous interest in the sport now.”

The cost of playing badminton will reduce in future

Dronacharya awardee said, “What has been happening in the past few years (India producing world-beaters) is one side of it and what is coming up in future is another side. I believe the sport is well poised (for further development) in the future. Moreover, the cost of the shuttle is going to go down in the next few years with the introduction of the synthetic shuttle. That should make the sport more flourishing in the years to come.”

Nobody thought these players will become world-class players

Gopichand said that nobody thought Saina and Sindhu will become world-class players when he started to train them in 2004. “I had 25 trainees at that time, all young with 16 years as the oldest one. Sindhu was the youngest. Nobody thought these players would become the world-beaters of now. People thought our women players will not be able to hit the shuttle so hard,” said Pullela.

When asked how he created such great talents, “I had a formula in mind which I could not apply to myself during my career due to injuries. When we grow up most of us think of being classical players with tossing up the shuttle and playing the strokes. Players like Dinesh Khanna will have this superb defensive play. But I had something different: jumping, running everywhere, and stretching yourself all over. I had many injuries and I could not apply this to me but I was able to do that in my coaching.”

Nobody knows when sports will resume, says Gopichand on the resumption of sports

The 46-year old coach advised players to maintain discipline in hard times. “We were thinking of June, then July, August (to resume sports), and now people are thinking September. Nobody knows when sports will resume. The important thing is that the players will have to be physically and mentally ready when the sports resume,” said Gopichand

He continued, “In my academy, the trainees have two training sessions — at 6 am and then at 4 pm. It forces them to maintain discipline. If you have to wake up for 6 am training, you will not be sleeping late at night. So, these routines are sort of keeping them disciplined so that they are ready.”