Gangtok: Badminton legend Pullela Gopichand, currently touring Sikkim, as Vice President of Badminton Association of Indiahas been in focus after Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay announced on Tuesday of partnership for sending talented 10-15 players to Gopichand Academy every year.
The focus was also shifted to the development of badminton infrastructure in the Himalayan state.
The CM has announced that the government will approve a budget for the construction of badminton courts. This development has been praised by Sikkimese shuttlers and those associated with Badminton Association of Sikkim, who have been pursuing this pursuit for years.
Pullela Gopichand, who watched and competed in the Governor’s Cup final for Badminton at Paljor Stadium on Tuesday, held an interactive discussion with players, coaches, technical officials and administrators on June 15.
Speaking of infrastructure development such as courts, the main national badminton coach shared: “The people at the world level are not the ones with the best facilities. Facilities will help you, but they are not solely responsible for their success. My journey will be successful if we can have some more badminton courts. Badminton Association of Sikkim is trying with the Chief Minister’s blessing, we should have some more courts.
On the development of Gopichand Academy in Sikkim, Padma Bhusan winner said: “From Badminton Association of India and Gopichand Academy, we will do our best to provide facilities for the players in the future. We have had discussions about this with the Badminton Association of Sikkim. In the coming days we will be organizing guided tours and programs. Land is becoming a bigger problem when it comes to infrastructure development, getting plains into the hills is always a challenge. But with the great interest of the government, we can find an answer. I really believe it’s an important step to ensure we can produce more players in the future.”
On the development of athletes at the national level from Sikkim, Gopichand shared: “In general, people who live in the mountainous area have better lung capacity. Their strength is also more. Both characteristics are important for sports. I see that there are many players here they are of good physique. If they get more facilities they may be able to represent the country in the coming years.”
Gopichand also batted for female athletes. He said: “Even if you want to do sports as a player, coach, technical officer, as a physiotherapist, as an administrator, the opportunity is huge. People are less, especially women. All the ladies who play continue the sport. Gender equality is very “important in the sport; we want more female players to come to the sport. We are looking for lady coaches, lady administrator or technical officers; ladies are very important. Don’t leave the sport, stay with it.”
Pricing the interest of the Sikkim government in sports, especially badminton, Gopichand shared: “Tournaments like the Governors Cup, when the governor and the prime minister consider it a party, staying long hours and playing side by side is a great encouragement. This is one of the first (tour) projects that we (BAI) are starting up that I’m sure will help, I hope this kind of travel will pay off by having more infrastructure, more players to play exhibition matches, inspiring people and focus in the sport brings.”
Gopichand emphasized how sports development in the country has only started in the last decade. “It is only in the last 10 years that sport has started in India. If it was in the 80’s or 90’s we wouldn’t be able to say this. But now in 10 years, a lot will change in the sport and hopefully things will get better. Perhaps in 3 or 5 years the opportunities and sports in our country will grow. The government of India is doing a lot. Every state government does; we are at the right time.”
“How the government of India and their plans, they? Khelo India or Fit India, there is always room for improvement of the players because of these programs. I’m sure players across the country have benefited from such programs in recent years. It might be a little slow to get into every corner of the country, but I’m sure, with the kind of energy and the facilities, the programs that are going on. I think it’s only a matter of time before Sikkim players also have the opportunity to become the best in the country and the world.”
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