Can infrastructure development boost badminton in Sikkim? Gopichand answers
Can infrastructure development boost badminton in Sikkim? Gopichand answers

Gangtok: Badminton legend Pullela Gopichand, currently on a tour of Sikkim, as the vice president of Badminton Association of India, has been in focus after Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay on Tuesday announced of partnership for sending talented 10-15 players every year to Gopichand Academy.

The focus was also shifted towards development of badminton infrastructure in the Himalayan state.

The CM announced that the government will pass a budget for construction of badminton courts. This development has been hailed by Sikkimese shuttlers and those associated with Badminton Association of Sikkim, who have been pursuing the endeavour for years.

Pullela Gopichand, who watched and participated in the finale of the Governor’s Cup for Badminton at Paljor Stadium on Tuesday, held an interactive discussion with players, coaches, technical officers and administrators on June 15.

Speaking about infrastructure development like courts, the chief national coach for badminton, 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 trip will be successful, if we are able to have some more badminton courts. Badminton Association of Sikkim is trying for it with the blessing of the Chief Minister we should have some more courts.”

On the development of Gopichand Academy in Sikkim, the Padma Bhusan awardee said, “From Badminton Association of India and Gopichand Academy, we will try our best to provide facilities for the players in the future. We have held talks with the Badminton Association of Sikkim regarding the matter. In the coming days, we will organize tours and programmes. Land becomes a bigger issue when it comes to infrastructure development, to get plain lands in the Hills are always a challenge. But with the keen interest of the government, we can find an answer. I do believe it is an important step in ensuring that we can produce more players in the future.”

On the development of national level athletes from Sikkim, Gopichand shared, “In general, people living in the mountainous region have a better lung capacity. Their strength is also more. Both these features are important for sports. I see there are many players here; they are with good physique. If they get more facilities, in the coming years they might represent the country someday.”

Gopichand also batted for women athletes. He said, “Even if you want to take sports as player, coach, technical officer, as physiotherapist, as administrator, the opportunity is huge. People are less, especially women. All the ladies playing, continue the sport. Gender equality is very important in sport; we want more women players to come to the sport. We are looking for lady coaches, lady administrator or technical officials; ladies are very important. Don’t leave the sport, stay with it.”

Praising the interest of the Sikkim government in sports, particularly badminton, Gopichand shared, “Tournaments like the Governors Cup, when the Governor and Chief Minister are taking it as a celebration, staying long hours and playing alongside, it is big encouragement. This is one of the first (tour) projects, we (BAI) are taking up, which I am sure will help. I am hoping that trips like this will bear fruit in having more infrastructure, have more players play exhibition matches, which inspires people and brings focus to the sport.”

Gopichand highlighted how sports development in the country has begun only in the last decade. “Only in last 10 years, sports in India has started. If it was in 1980s or 90s, we couldn’t say this. But now in 10 years, a lot will change in sports and, hopefully, things will be better. Maybe in 3 or 5 years, opportunities and sports in our country will grow. Government of India is doing a lot. Every state government is doing; we are at the right time.”

“How the government of India and their schemes, be it Khelo India or Fit India, there is always a scope for improvement of the players because of these programmes. I am sure in the last few years such programmes have benefited players across the country. It might be little slow to get into every nook and corner of the country, but I am sure, with the kind of energy and the facilities, the progrmmes which are happening. I think it is only a matter of time before Sikkim players also get an opportunity to be the best in the country and the world.”

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