India's chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand has slammed the Badminton World Federation (BWF), the game's controlling body, for drawing up a "cramped schedule" which will force the world's top shuttlers to play at least masses of tournaments in a year, in its revamped competition schedule for the 2018.
"I think they've cramped the calendar too much. It's unfortunate the kind of thinking that the BWF has. And I don't agree to what they have in terms of getting players to play so many tournaments. And there are players who're already getting injured, performances have not been consistent at all and it doesn't help the player's cause when they have to continue to push themselves to play so many tournaments. There're so many ways of ensuring that the sport is promoted and cramping up the calendar and forcing the players to play is not a very good idea," said Gopichand, while launching a new talent hunt initiative on Wednesday. To signal completion of one year of its association with IDBI Federal Life Insurance, the Pullela Gopichand Academy will identify 10-15 under-10 children, who'll be inducted into the renowned player-turned coach's Hyderabad-based academy.
He further explained, "Coaches need to be trained, motivated, recognised, rewarded, and all of these are important. In the entire ecosystem of the sport, how many coaches do we know from various fields? Even sportspersons, reporters, and myself, we would not know so many of them. Also, how much of pay we give them is also important. We treat Indian and foreign coaches differently. I'll have to say this openly but there's not a single rupee of remuneration which any of the coaches in the past have got from either the federation or the Sports Authority of India (SAI), and it's time they start looking at coaches and coaching differently, and unless we do that we can't sustain the ecosystem of sports. I completely agree with Prakash sir. It's important that coaches need to be looked at; it's high time we looked at it, because we should have looked at it in the past 10 years and we haven't. And it's not only badminton but across all sports this is for me is the most important thing. Coaches need to be respected, coaches need to be rewarded, coaches need to be awarded and people should be motivated to take up coaching."
Meanwhile, Gopichand was full of praise for Kidambi Srikanth, who's enjoyed an extremely successful year on the international circuit. "To win four Super Series titles and becoming runner-up at one and at the end of year reach a ranking of world No 2 is phenomenal. Not many players in world badminton (have achieved that).
"The only players who have achieved what he has done - we call them legends of the sport across time. From that point of view what he has achieved is phenomenal. He's young and has many more years to compete. He's 24. (with) Lee Chong Wei at 34 and Lin Dan at 33 (still playing), we can expect that he has 8-10 years of badminton left in him. What he has achieved is phenomenal. What he can achieve, considering his potential, is unbelievable," complimented the 44-year-old.
2017, Gopichand felt, was "Overall, a great year" for Indian badminton. He remarked, "I think all the players have done well. At the beginning of the year if you had said this is what you would get this year, I would have taken it very happily. In the big events - championships or Super Series events, we have done well. Also, varied people have done well. Last year was, may be, Sindhu's year. This year the men's singles has come off (well). Three of them winning Super Series titles, winning GP gold level - (HS) Prannoy and Sameer (Verma) winning. Overall it has been a good year. Hoping for a good finish in Dubai (Super Series finals) to what has been a great year already."
He concluded, "We have a pretty cramped calendar in the world level. Considering that, what we have been able to manage has been good. It's a good stepping stone for the next year as well."