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Pullela Gopichand slams badminton world body’s tournament calendar rule

Under the revamped Badminton World Federation (BWF) rules, the top 15 players in the singles categories, and 10 in the doubles segments, have to take part in at least 12 tournaments across the year, and Pullela Gopichand feels that will lead to player burnout.

other sports Updated: Dec 06, 2017 23:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Pullela Gopichand,Badminton World Federation,BWF
Pullela Gopichand, Indian national badminton chief coach, during a press conference to announce a new talent hunt initiative, in Mumbai on Wednesday. (PTI)

Chief national coach Pullela Gopichand slammed the new Badminton World Federation (BWF) calendar, stating that forcing players to compete in 12 events (mandatory) every year is not just unfair but will also lead to injuries and inconsistent performances.

“I think they’ve cramped the calendar too much,” he said on the sidelines of the launch of a talent hunt campaign under Gopichand Academy. “It is unfortunate the kind of thinking the BWF has. I don’t agree to what they have (interests) in terms of getting players to play so many tournaments. There are players who’re already getting injured, performances have not been consistent and it doesn’t help the players’ cause when they’ve to continue to push themselves to play so many tournaments.”

Under the revamped BWF rules, the top 15 players in the singles categories, and 10 in the doubles segments, have to take part in at least 12 tournaments across the year.

While the BWF has also proposed an increased prize kitty for the tournaments, it also stated that it can penalize players if they fail to take part in the mandatory number of 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,” Gopichand reiterated.

Predicament of coaches

The coach also took a dig at the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for not recognizing the important contributions of the coaches in developing players.

“Coaches need to be trained, need to be motivated, need to be recognised, need to be rewarded, and all of these are important,” he said. “We treat Indian coaches differently, 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 SAI and it’s time they start looking at coaches differently.”

Gopichand, however, added that lack of incentives wasn’t the only reason why only a handful take up coaching after retiring from competition.

“It’s not just lack of incentives. It’s sometimes lack of respect as well. Society has to respect that. The family has to respect that because if he gets paid doing another job, they’ll say, ‘why are you coaching? You’re better off doing another thing’. The federation, governments, authorities and administrators also need to take them seriously,” he added.

‘Saina needs improvement’

Gopichand, under whose tutelage the likes of Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth have all reached their peak, is satisfied with the business on court.

He heaped praise on Sindhu and Srikanth, stating that while the former should be lauded for the kind of performance she has given after clinching silver at the Rio Olympics last year. He praised Srikanth’s achievements (of winning four Superseries title and reaching five finals overall) as well.

He added that there were many aspects that needs improvement in Nehwal’s game.

First Published: Dec 06, 2017 22:43 IST