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Future uncertain for Padukone

The Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) is desperately on the lookout for a sponsor for the past six months.
None | By Saji Chacko, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JUL 31, 2006 02:47 AM IST

The Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) is desperately on the lookout for a sponsor for the past six months. The Bangalore-based Academy, which has been the premier badminton academy in the country for almost a decade now, has been seeking a sponsor ever since British Physical Laboratories (BPL) pulled out in 2004.

Former chief national coach Vimal Kumar, one of the directors, said that things were quite bad for the academy at the moment. ‘For the last two months, we have been on a shoe-string budget. If we do not get a sponsor in the coming month, we will have to do something drastic. The coffers are almost empty,” he said.

Things have not been going well for the Academy ever since BPL pulled out. The financial problems faced by the company was the main reason for BPL to pull out of the Academy. Even after BPL’s merger with Hutch, they continued to partly support the PPBA, revealed Vimal.

Once BPL started to scale down their presence, things started going bad for the PPBA. “We started to feel the pinch once they started cutting down on their involvement.

“The players, who earlier did not have to shell out a penny for their expenses or stay at the Academy, were now required to fork out.” For instance, those who were employed had to shell out Rs 2000 per month while those who were not had to pay Rs 1000.

Incidentally, it was during this period that the exodus of players from the Academy started. After Gopi Chand, Aparna Popat, Nikhil Kanetkar and a host of others moved out of the Academy.

However, speaking to HT, Padukone, one of the three directors of the Academy, sounded hopeful and said talks are on with a Mumbai-based company for sponsorship. “We are in the process of inking a deal. That is all what I can say right now,” he said.

He claimed that, but for the Mumbai blasts (on July 11), the deal would have been through. “The blasts have definitely pushed back the deal. We were on the threshold of inking it (the deal) when the blasts occurred. I think it pushed things back by at least a month,” he said.

Vimal, though, was quick to praise the previous sponsors. “We are very happy with the way the Academy was run by BPL. I think we were quite fortunate in the way they treated us. We were given a free hand, and no questions were asked. Added to this was the fact that whenever we needed extra money to send a player (or players) abroad, they never made an issue out of it.”

It must be mentioned that during its ten-year long stint, the Prakash Padukone Academy has churned out some of the best shuttlers India has produced. Gopi Chand, Aparna Popat, Nikhil Kanetkar, Anup Sridhar, Arvind Bhatt are some of the leading names to have honed their skills at the Academy.

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