National badminton coach Pullela Gopichand, when addressing an online session suggested changes in the funding model of sports. He said that the current model is “athlete-centric” but it should rather focus on “funding a group”.
Gopichand gave suggestions in the session organised by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for its newly appointed Assistant Directors.
“All present models are athlete-centric, they don`t benefit the sport as a whole. They benefit individual athletes. We should look at funding a group rather than individual athletes. The structure should throw up champions. The level of competition should be so high, that they become world-class without them even knowing. The number 2 and number 3 should be constantly pushing the number 1,” Gopichand said during the session.
Gopichand, who became a national hero with his All-England Championship win in 2001, has coached India to two Olympic medals in 2012 (Saina Nehwal) and 2016 (PV Sindhu).
The coach also stressed that most successful models worldwide are “coach-driven, sports science, and athlete-driven”.
“You want people to be on-field, you want them to work as coaches … (however) as time goes by, a lot of people want to become mentors and administrators and they don`t want to continue coaching. As administrators I want you to be aware, of who are putting in the effort and who are remotely managing. Most successful models worldwide are coach-driven, sports science, and athlete-driven. People working on the field should be the decision-makers,” he said.
Gopichand added that rather than having grassroots-level coaches, intermediate coaches, and elite coaches as part of a hierarchy, they should all work parallel to each other.
In order to create more winners, it is important to have a strong domestic competition structure, said Gopichand.
“The competition structure should be strong where everyone is striving to beat the other. We need to find small pockets where not only training is world-class but competition is also world-class. Internal competition is what will make people strive to get better,” he said.
He also emphasised that: “Administrators should look at being innovative and ensuring the holistic development of the athlete, and we should see that development happening all through. The champion will last longer if there is a more holistic approach.”