Sports Authority of India. (Photo: Twitter @SAI)
Sports Authority of India. (Photo: Twitter @SAI)

Sports Authority of India (SAI) has given the go-ahead to National Badminton Coaching Camp for 26 national players, proposed by BAI and Chief National Coach, Pullella Gopichand, keeping preparation for Thomas and Uber Cup, that begins from October 3, in mind. The camp will take place from 7th September till 27th September at Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy, Hyderabad.

Pre-empting the need for preparation of the Thomas and Uber Cup, SAI had held a meeting with all stakeholders on August 27th, requesting a proposal on the camp to be held.

The said proposal was received on 5th September, following which another meeting was held with all stakeholders on September 6th.

The initial proposal received had stated that the players would reside in a hotel, however, after discussion, it was decided that the players will stay and play at the Pullela Gopichand academy itself, to ensure greater safety of players amidst the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic.

The strength of the training camp is now 26, extending the list to include more players apart from the Olympic bound athletes such as Sai Praneeth, already training at the academy.

National players part of the camp are – Men’s singles player Sai Praneeth, P Kashyap and Kidambi Srikanth, Women’s doubles pair Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponappa, and women’s singles player Saina Nehwal, along with 7 coaches, 4 support staff, and 3 sparring partners.

Speaking about the decision, Pullela Gopichand said, “I am very happy that SAI and BAI have been proactive in ensuring that sporting activities can start early. I am happy this camp is starting because the Thomas & Uber Cup is an important tournament and I hope we get some good results there.”

Singles player Kidambi Srikanth welcomed the move and said, “I am happy to be back to the camp and start competing again.”

Fellow national camper and doubles player Sikki Reddy agreed with Srikanth and added, “Looking at the competition it is good to have a team practice and members of the other states present at the camp as we missed training in a group and training in a group motivates the players to do better. This also brings in added responsibilities for everyone and we have to be really careful now and make sure everyone follows all the protocols that have been put in place because it’s not just you but others around you as well.”

Keeping the current situation of the ongoing pandemic in mind, all players, coaches, and support staff would have to undergo mandatory RT-PCR tests for COVID-19 before they travel to Hyderabad and would only be allowed in the academy, once they produce COVID – 19 Negative certificate.

Once they are at the academy they will be isolated and tested again on the 6th day of the quarantine and would only be allowed in the field of play once they have cleared the second round of the COVID-19 test.

SAI’s Assistant Director Dr. Monika, who has been involved in setting up COVID protocols in SAI Bengaluru and conducting sensitization programmes for hockey players who had tested COVID positive, is being sent to Pullela Gopichand Academy to educate players and staff on the processes to be followed and necessary precautions to be taken.

The Thomas and Uber Cup is to be held in Aarhus, Denmark next month and would take place from 3rd October to 11th October.