Chief national coach of Indian badminton team, Gopichand gives his perspective on the historic win in the Thomas cup and steps to be taken for betterment of badminton in India. Excerpts
Q. Congratulations on the historic Thomas cup too, we have heard from the players, what it meant for them. What does it mean for you personally?
A. I think for me, for all of us, in the badminton fraternity and in some senses, this sporting fraternity, I think this victory is very big. I think, very few times in the past, in any sport, have we achieved this. Very happy that this has come out and we have a team which actually brought something very big for the country.
Q. Great. Why do you think that this Indian men’s team grown stronger as a unit?
A. Well, I think there’ve been a, quite a few causes for it. I think one would be the steady rise of badminton over the years. I think there’s been a lot of effort put in by a lot of people, a lot of support from the badminton association of India, a lot of support from the sports authority and various individuals over time actually have contributed. It’s really great to see the success of other players. Contribute also to this in terms of confidence, whether it’s the Olympic medals in women’s singles or whether it’s the wins of the previous players in the men singles and the doubles. I think each one of them have kind of brought in or instilled a sense of confidence into the team and today the players in the team believed in themselves, wanted to prove a point in some sense. And I think each one of those players have contributed tremendously. And the spirit behind the entire team, I think has allowed them to punch in some sense higher than their weight category and produce that.
Q. You penned a beautiful article on the victory where you spoke about the next difficult target. Have you identified it?
A. Well, I think, something as big as a Thomas cup, equates to every team, every team championship than the world, looking at you, or you at least looking at yourself and saying I’m a potential. I’m, winner at this event. So that puts in a lot of pressure a lot of responsibility on you. So I think the pressure and responsibility should ensure that the players perform better and more responsibility in whatever tournaments they’re playing.
Q. Do you think that the model of success, especially what we see in the double spare of Sathvik and Chirag Shetty is what you are aiming to replicate in the women set up to.
A. Well, I think we will have definitely the challenges in terms of whichever sport. I’m sure that the sport has their strong countries. So in the women’s doubles, likewise, we have say countries like Korea, China, Malaysia doing very well. Then we of course have a few other countries in Europe and maybe even countries like Thailand. So we have tough competition. It’s not going to be easy, but we also have some had some good successes in the women’s doubled. We had Gaytri and Tereesas, the semifinals of the all England for the first time ever. And we had a couple of bins at the. We’d have, we have hundred and 300 levels. We have younger players, even players like Tanisha and Misha, all of them have been kind of producing those results. We need to they’re all 18, 19 years old. They need to go and I’m sure with experience and with work, we will actually get there in the women’s doubles.
Q. Is there a role that the government and Sai have played that has worked out to what more do you think they should focus on?
A. I think as far as it is sources of concern for the top players, especially I think they’ve been taken care of very, very well. To be honest, I think whether it’s the government, whether it’s in various forms, whether it’s the ACPC budgets, whether it’s up scheme budgets, I think they’ve. And also the presence of the corporates, the academies actually have really helped. And I do believe that that consistent support for the younger players as well in terms of state of Kalo India and the tops development, which is actually coming to me, I’m sure these budgets are available.
And they will benefit the younger players as well. So we’ve had some kind of a time lag because of the Covid we’ve had the last two, three years, which are actually where we did not have junior events. And because of that art progression from the junior to the senior or players, you’re playing the next level, the next level actually has been missed. But, um, I’m sure with tournament starting at. sentences receiving and people getting back to normal. I’m sure we can get some good opportunities for the younger players who will blossom in the next two, three years.
Q. Great to know when, like how does Prime Minister’s regular infact interactions help the players
A. I think, I think one is, of course the players. I think it’s a huge motivation because people are saying I get to meet prime minister if I perform right. And that’s, that’s huge because you go to a team and make the certain. So that’s the kind of. Things. So people are looking forward to it as an event, like saying that if been the final belief or if even the semi’s really still call so I think that that’s big.
So people for us, I think it’s a big motivation, but more importantly, from my perspective, having seen previous developments and not this prime minister, I would say that. So when the prime minister is interested in sport, then everybody along the lane is interested in sport. And I think that makes a huge difference because people are taking sports seriously, knowing well that the highest office in the land is following it.
And if people complain or if people are slacking behind, uh, somebody up there is watching it and they are moving. This was missing for a long time in Indian sport, where sport was neglected and people.
I don’t want to be the minister. I don’t want to be the secretary, or I don’t want to head this department because nobody bothers about it. So I think that has changed significantly. And everybody who’s in sport is actually there knowing that this department is very important and that has come because of the prime minister’s direct interest in the sport.
Q. So like if we drill on the larger question, like, what do you now see as our next priorities in the badminton system? Where can we in a way from what we have.
A. I think if you look at the enteric ecosystem of badminton and the results we’ve produced over what time we’ve actually excelled in every department, whether it’s men’s singles, women singles men’s doubles, women’s boots or team events we’ve actually done well. So what it actually says is we have the potential to be in these. So it’s only it’s up to us to ensure that the young girls are trained better as a system, which is actually put in place.
We change shows that each one of them who has the talent is given a pathway to new, up to the top. We should also say show that the support staff and the coaches are motivated and recognized properly so that they keep contributing to the ecosystem. And, I think produce the next people in line so that the top players don’t take their place for granted. I think what this one and also the results are what the last few years have shown is we have the potential and an opportunity to be a top badminton nation, although may, would suggest that. I still believe that we are still some way away from being, and I do believe that we have a chance and every department could be there. And it’s up to us that in the next few years, we should do that.