The Odisha government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Pullela Gopichand Foundation with the aim to set up a badminton academy in the state.
Basking in the afterglow of the successfully held Asian Athletics Championships (2017), and with a declaration of developing Bhubaneshwar as the sports capital of the country, this development will only help Odisha in becoming a badminton powerhouse in the country.
At present, Pullela Gopichand is responsible for running two badminton academies in Hyderabad, the first of which was set up in 2001; this was immediately after he had won the All England Badminton title at 27. In recent years, backed by financial support & greater public interest, the Gopichand Academies have incorporated the best practices & techniques to get the most out of their wards. From helping them achieve peak fitness levels to incorporating a rigid diet to personalized attention to all the top level sportspersons, the Gopichand Academy has been a perfect example of the level Indian athletes can reach, if given the best facilities & support.
His approach towards the players has been widely mentioned; be it the amount of detail & focus he gives to each player, or the disciplinarian approach which forbids players from going out in the evenings & which allows the players access to their mobile phones only on a Saturday. But of course, it has been this approach of his which has led to the rise of players like Saina Nehwal – the girl from Haryana who took up badminton as she could not communicate with her Andhra-based peers or Kidambi Srikanth – the boy who took up badminton only because his elder brother played the sport. And while the players from his academy – including Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth and many others – have won Olympic medals & other titles around the world, no Indian player – whether a she/he – has won the All England title again.
Hopefully, the next Indian champion may emerge from Odisha.