To be world-class, it's important that we grow our own coaches, says Gopichand


To be world-class, its important that we grow our own coaches, says Gopichand
Gopichand says he is incredibly proud of PV Sindhu despite her defeats in the finals at the Rio Olympics and the World Championships. (AFP file)

Dubai - We hire foreign coaches for hockey and shooting. It's not the way forward, he said

By Rituraj Borkakoty

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Published: Tue 9 Jan 2018, 7:58 PM

Last updated: Thu 11 Jan 2018, 8:09 PM

When Pullela Gopichand talks about coaching, you better keep your ears open. This unassuming man never raises his voice above a whisper and yet it's he who has made the most telling impact on Indian badminton. 
The world, of course, has come to know the secret to India's phenomenal rise in badminton in recent years. That it's Gopichand whose coaching skills have helped turn the likes of Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy into world-class performers. 
But the 44-year-old Gopichand believes India needs more home-grown coaches if they hope to compete consistently with the best in the world.
"We just can't keep relying on foreign coaches," says Gopichand who famously won the All England Championships in 2001.
"We hire foreign coaches for hockey and shooting. It's not the way forward. To be a world-class sporting nation, it's important that we grow our own coaches. It's a sensitive issue because we still don't have the system in the country that encourages retired athletes to invest their experience and knowledge in coaching youngsters. I was lucky because my family backed my coaching ambitions, others were not so lucky in India."
It wasn't so easy for him either when he wanted to open the badminton academy in Hyderabad.  
"Well, badminton today in India is different from what it was 15 years ago. And the kind of sponsors we have now were not there those days," Gopichand tells Khaleej Times.
"There were some people who came out to help, but it wasn't enough. I struggled quite a lot to raise funds for the academy. And, it came to a point where I had to mortgage my own house. So, we went through these tough times and I am glad that my family supported me in that moment of my life. They agreed to take a tough decision and taking those tough decisions was very important. If we hadn't done that we probably wouldn't have achieved what we have achieved." 

The 27-year-old Saina Nehwal still has a lot more to offer, Gopichand says
If not for the Gopichand Badminton Academy, the Nehwals, Sindhus and Srikanths probably would have never been in a position to go toe-to-toe with the greatest shuttlers in the world. But Gopichand admits that without the success he enjoyed as a player, his coaching journey would have never become such an inspiring story. 
"Had I not won the All England Championships in 2001, I would not have got the platform to start my coaching career. So for that reason the All England victory is very important. Each phase in your life is different. For me it matters so much to be where we are now in the world of badminton. I feel very privileged to be part of this entire journey," he smiles. 
It then became too tempting to avoid asking about Sindhu's two lost opportunities to wear a gold medal in the biggest events - the Olympics and the World Championships. But age is on Sindhu's side and Gopichand says he is incredibly proud of the 22-year-old player.  
"If she plays another big final, I will tell her the same things that I said to her before those two finals in Rio and Glasgow. That if you get a slight chance, grab it with both hands. I will tell her to give everything she has on the court. But when I look back at the entire journey of the Olympics and the World Championships, it gives me satisfaction. Yes, she didn't win the gold, but she won silver and lost to worthy winners," he says.
Nehwal, Gopichand's other famous pupil, won a bronze at the World Championships last year after having recovered from a serious knee injury. 
"I believe that she still has a lot more to offer," Gopichand says of the 27-year-old Nehwal. 
"She can continue to contribute. As a team, we will give our best shot and God willing, she will win some big tournaments again."


He is definitely a level higher than all other coaches in India. As a player he has definitely seen the game well and played at the highest level. I think that really helped him when he became a coach and he already knew the level at which the international players were playing. So he exactly knows how he should train his players to become successful in big international events. That has helped us and I am really proud to have trained under a coach like Gopi Sir.

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