An Indonesian coach hired by the sports ministry to train shuttlers in national camps has instead been stationed in Lucknow to oversee trainees of the Uttar Pradesh Badminton Association's academy. The Babu Banarasi Das Badminton Academy is named after the father of Badminton Association of India (BAI) president, Akhliesh Das Gupta, who is also an MP.
In January, the ministry inked a two-year contract with Handra Meulyano on a monthly salary of R1,65,000 ($3000) in addition to boarding and lodging expenses. Since then, he has been based in Lucknow, where no national coaching camp has been conducted, nor has he been sent to Hyderabad or places where national camps have been held.
Of late, most of the country's top shuttlers have been groomed either at the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad or Prakash Padukone Academy in Bangalore.
"When there is no top-level player at the Lucknow academy, why has the ministry posted the Indonesian coach, who has been hired to train national squads, there? Is it just because the private academy belongs to the BAI president and is named after his father," questioned a former Olympian.
Acting on BAI's demand for a foreign doubles coach and considering Saina Nehwal's London Olympics medal, the ministry sanctioned a third foreign coach for preparing the national squads.
Meulyano was posted in Lucknow keeping in mind a plan BAI is developing, the Lucknow academy will act as a national doubles training centre and sub-junior and junior national camps will be conducted here. But more than three months have lapsed and the plan is yet to take shape. Now, his expertise is being used by the trainees of the Banarasi Das Academy.
On why BAI had posted Meulyano in a private academy, TPS Puri, administrative in-charge, BAI, said, "The Lucknow academy is a UP state association-run academy and we are developing it as the national training centre and for national camps, so we've got Meulyano there."
No national camp
Questioned that no national camp had taken place in Lucknow since January and the academy's claim that the Indonesian coach was there for their trainees, Puri replied, "For the national camps I have to check records. The Indonesian coach is only for national campers and not for the academy trainees."
HT has reliably learnt that when parents of prospective wards approach Nishant Sinha, joint secretary, UPBA, and in-charge of the academy, this is what he has to say. "We have an Indonesian coach and he will take a test and on his recommendation we will give admission. Once your ward clears the test, we will discuss the fee structure and if he is talented we might offer a scholarship."