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Should look at funding group over individuals, says P Gopichand on India’s sports system

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National badminton coach Pullela Gopichand on Tuesday said India needs to look at supporting a group rather than individuals to produce more champions.

Gopichand made the assertion while addressing a special online session organised by the Sports Authority of India 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,” he said.

“The structure should throw up champions. The level of competition should be so high, that they become world-class without them even knowing. The No 2 and No 3 should be constantly pushing the No 1.”

Talking about the importance of coaches in the sporting ecosystem, Gopichand said: “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.”

Gopichand thinks that intermediate coaches and elite coaches should work parallelly, rather than having grassroot-level coaches. He also stated that it is important for coaches to be constantly motivated.

Gopichand, who groomed Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu to Olympic medals in 2012 and 2016, also emphasised on the importance of having a strong domestic competition structure to create more winners.

“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.

“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,” said Gopichand added.



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