New Delhi/Patiala: In a step to strengthen the coaching ecosystem in India, Sports Authority of India (SAI) launched a High Performance Coach Education Programme at the National Centre for Sports Coaching (NCSC), under the aegis of NSNIS Patiala.

The elite coach education programme was launched by Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju in the presence of Chief Coach of the Indian Badminton team Pullela Gopichand. The event was also attended by Secretary (Sports) Ravi Mital and DG-SAI Sandip Pradhan.

Highlighting the importance of a course of such high academic and technical value, Rijiju said, “A country of our size has to understand and harness its own potential. We go to smaller countries (for training), and we think foreign coaches have an edge over Indian coaches – this is something we need to reverse.”

Pressing on the need to build a pool of elite Indian coaches, he said: “We speak about Atmanirbhar Bharat, it is the Honourable PM’s vision and is applicable across the board, so we need to be Atmanirbhar in sports too. That can happen when we have (only) Indian coaches across all disciplines in Indian sports. For a country of our size, we cannot be running around (to other countries) for a coach. Our long-term goal of putting India among the Top 10 nations in the Olympics is not unrealistic, and I think this kind of Higher Performance Programmes for coaches is the key towards achieving that.”

Dronacharya awardee Pullela Gopichand said, “Our coaching system can have foriegn coaches as consultants but the basic structure has to be led by Indian coaches. It is important that we learn from (foreign coaches) when we don’t have the expertise and we gradually become self reliant.”

He added, “In this regard, SAI has done a lot of great work and in the next few months we will have the first set of former international-level players join us as coaches and these kind of programs and high-performance coaching courses will allow us to have majority Indian coaches and a few foreign coaches which is the right mix for us to perform at the highest level.”

The course, which will run over a six-month duration will have 7 modules. At least 250 top coaches of SAI from its various National Center Of Excellence and training centres will form the core group of nurturing the best sports talent in the country as coaches. Each batch will have a limited capacity of 20 students only.

During the course, besides the theoretical classes, participants will have two-week practical session at various high performance centres across the country. The pedagogy adopted during this six-month-long course will include presentations from the best coaches, sports administrators in the country and abroad.

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