Hyderabad, Telangana: Many careers last for 30 to 40 years. But a sporting career lasts just for 10 years. We have lost one year due to a pandemic. But the good news is that sports are coming back in full swing at all levels after the pandemic said Mr Pullela Gopichand, Badminton Champion and Chief National Coach while addressing a press conference along with Ms. Uma Chigurupati, Chairperson of FICCI Ladies Organisation, before the beginning of his talk with FLO members in the city at ITC Kohenur at Madhapur.
Pandemic disrupted the careers of many sports personnel, but fortunately, they are good at handling setbacks, Mr. Pullela Gopichand said. When you are at the peak of your career, the career doesn’t last beyond a couple of years. The pandemic disrupted the short careers of many sports personnel. It is depressing. But fortunately for sports personnel defeats, setbacks, failures are part and parcel of their life. This has come to their forte now. It has given time for them to work on their weaknesses. Catch up with what they always longed for he said
We are building six new courts at the Academy at Gachibowli thanks to the support from Kotak Organisation, who are supporting this venture. We are also building a Sports Science Center and a Coach Development Center to take up the coaching pan India as there is abundant talent, Mr Gopichand Announced.
Preparations for the Olympics are in full swing. The Central Government provided personal coaches. The state government has opened Gachibowli stadium with facilities for us to practice and we thank them. We are confident of better performance, he said.
The Tokyo Olympics, delayed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, are now scheduled which is a big boost to all the sports personnel, he said.
He was the chief guest at FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) at its first Ground Event in the FLO calendar year.
Mr. Pullela Gopichand was invited by FLO to address its gathering on “The Dhrona Factor—Sculpting the Arjunas”.
He interacted with the media before the session with FLO members.
At the session which was attended by over 150 members, Mr Gopichand spoke about his journey, struggles he faced as a player, coach, later setting up the academy, physical literacy he propagated, his interaction with kids during the pandemic through online coaching. He was in conversation with Ms Uma Chigurupati, Chairperson of FLO Hyderabad.
Welcoming the gathering Ms Uma Chigurupati who herself a Marathoner, adventure sports personality, holds a world record, announced that it is the 20th year of FLO. Later a special logo was unveiled by past chairpersons Ms Pinky Reddy and Ms Manju Reddy.
My entry into the sport happened by accident. We went for Cricket, but it was full. There was no vacancy. Then my parents put me in Badminton. Later I came to know from them that they wanted him to be a badminton player as there were many cars parked outside the cricket ground. And they never wanted me to get into cricket.
He shared how he has come back after continuous and severe injuries. I found my luck, happiness in the sport. I don’t know anything other than the sport, he shared.
Speaking about the inspiration behind setting up the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy he said, “ I had come up in the sport so well without much support system, experts, coaches what the current generation of players have. In those days not many national players used to be there from Andhra Pradesh. Nobody took us so seriously at the nationals. They used to ridicule as saying yeah Andhra wale ek khelneke kapde aur theen ghoom ne ke kapde leke aathey hai(these Andhra guys come with a set of sports clothes and three sets of sight seeking clothes). I had found my success formula for winning. And If I could do that to myself, why can’t I do it for others. This was the reason behind setting up the academy he shared.
Though I am known as a big disciplinarian, I make fun an integral part of the coaching. The fun element is very important. You ask a kid to get up at 4 am and study he wouldn’t do it but ask him to come to Gopichand Badminton Academy he would do it. That is because they find their fun in the coaching.
Speaking about this generation of players, how different from his generation, Mr Gopichand said yesteryear’s generation used to consider going to a big sporting event was itself an achievement. But today’s doesn’t find a kick in going there unless they perform, win and return with the medal. That is the difference I can see in the current generation.
Sharing his crusade for physical activity, Mr. Gopichand said, physical activity builds neurons. If you are not physically active, you are not going to activate your brain. Physical activity for kids and even for adults is very important. I even made a presentation to the Prime Minister of India on the same. Now we have Khelo India, Fit India, Yoga Day and many more to keep people physically active.
Recalling what JRD Tata once said “A nation doesn’t become great because of removing poverty, it becomes great by giving opportunities to people to shine”, he said this was my turning point.
Speaking about engaging kids during the pandemic he said “we commenced online coaching from March 27, 2020, at 6am”.
Kids used to wonder when we were free the whole day why we had to get up early in the morning for coaching. But, the idea behind that time was if we didn’t wake them up early, they might go to sleep the previous night late, and might get up late in the day. And remain dormant mode the whole day, Mr. Gopichand said.
Every kid has the right to be the best in their own right, he said and added that kids learn faster than adults. Kids must be allowed to play multi sports. Encourage kids to play more sports, he said.
Please value playing. It is very important in a child’s growth, he said. Life’s best lessons are learnt when you go out and play. Sports are beyond medals, he added.
I can see a good future for para-sport. This can become big in future. The sports have to be inclusive. It must include everybody including transgenders, physically challenged Mr. Gopichand said.
He answered many questions of the FLO members. Replying to a question he said that there are no immediate plans to set up a Badminton Academy in any other locations in the city.
He thanked both state and central governments for their unstinted support.