Better the coaches, better the players: Jwala Gutta

New Delhi: Ace doubles player Jwala Gutta has insisted that India needs to build an environment in which there are multiple indigenous badminton coaches. The 36-year-old Arjuna Awardee believes that the lack of Indian coaches is one of the several factors that are contributing to a flawed system for the sport in the country, particularly in the field of doubles badminton.

“I feel it is time that we create a programme in which we make our Indian coaches as capable (as foreign coaches), which we are not doing at all,” she said on Tuesday. Citing the example of her own coach — SM Arif, Gutta said that there are many coaches whose important contribution towards churning out the talented players that have come out over the past two decades in Indian badminton has gone under the radar.

“We don’t really value our coaches. Arif sir has done so much for the country but there is hardly any acknowledgement. Only people who are marketed well (are recognised). The government has to step in and make a system to make coaches first. Better the coaches, better the players,” she said.

Gutta was speaking to reporters at the launch of her Academy of Excellence, which is set to begin operations in the next two months. The 55-acre academy is expected to be a world class facility with infrastructure for multiple sports. It will have 14 badminton courts and Gutta says that she will be needing foreign coaches initially.

“I’ll need at least 10 coaches. I have hardly been able to find any good Indian coaches. Arif sir is the head of the coaching setup there and we are still interviewing candidates. And I’ll make sure the coaches are paid well and well taken care of. That’s my goal,” she said.

She hopes that her academy eventually becomes a place where young Indian coaches can find their footing and are
groomed under Arif.

Gutta also questioned the centralisation of power in the Gopichand Academy. She said that the multiple hats that Pullela Gopichand dawns amounts to conflict of interest which needs to be looked into.

“He (Gopi) is the chief coach, chief selector, owns his coaching academy, holds the posts of District Association President, secretary of Telangana Association, is a part of Khelo India, Premier Badminton League, TOP scheme, GoSports Foundation etc. It’s all on paper, not my imagination. So if there is a conflict of interest, ask questions,” she said.

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“I have attended camps at many places such as Bengaluru, Jalandhar, and after 2006, it has only been happening at the Gopichand Academy. Personally, I had no problems since I live there, but it is not fair. Why camps are only in Hyderabad?”


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