In an apparent bid to clip chief national coach, Pullela Gopi Chand’s wings, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) has decided to revive the independent panel of coaches for juniors under the leadership of former Sports Authority of India (SAI) coach Sanjeev Sachdeva.
Sachdeva was the junior national coach till October 2010, but his tenure was not extended after Gopi Chand convinced the then BAI president, VK Verma, that there was no need for two separate panels.
Gopi Chand’s contention was that the juniors needed to train with the seniors at the same camp to improve their standard. "There was also a school of thought that India didn't have enough good coaches to make the two panels," said a source. However, the decision had created a lot of discontent among coaches on the junior panel.
BAI secretary-general, Vijai Sinha, dismissed talks of sidelining Gopi Chand, saying the panels would be decided in consultation with the former All England champion after the u-19 Badminton Asia Confederation (BAC) Championship next month.
He, however, admitted that the two panels would function independently. “The senior and junior panels would work separately and have independent camps,” Sinha said on Thursday.
“State bodies have been asked to suggest the names and credentials of coaches for the panels,” he added. Even the five-member panel of coaches selected for the camp for the BAC championship and the subsequent tournament indicates that Gopi Chand's idea of continuity was not considered.
The team of coaches led by Sachdeva has foreign coach Edwin Eriwan, head coach at the UP Badminton Association-run academy, Thomas John, and Aparna Pandey of Allahabad, along with SAI coach Sudhir Singh.
BAI vice-president TPS Puri said they were also looking for a third panel of coaches to work with the u-15 players.