India’s national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand says ‘athlete-centric’ funding model doesn’t benefit the sport

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National badminton coach, Pullela Gopichand said the current athlete-centric model of funding doesn’t give profit to the sport and to produce more champions, there is a need to gaze at aiding a group rather than individuals.

Gopichand made the statement while attending a special online session organised by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for it’s newly appointed Assistant Director.

“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 number 2 and number 3 should be constantly pushing the number 1,” he added.

While talking about the prestige 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 is putting in the effort and who is 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 added.

He also said that it is important for coaches to motivate players so they don’t lose interest in their job.

Gopichand, who trained Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu to Olympic medals in 2012 and 2016, also promoted the significance of having a strong domestic competition structure to invent new sport champions.

“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.

The 46-year old emphasized the necessity for sport administrators to take a more holistic approach towards player growth.

“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.

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