Blaming the current system for the lack of world-class Indian women doubles badminton players, Jwala Gutta has called for the complete overhaul of the ecosystem. Gutta, a doubles star, hasn’t played at international level since January 2017. She had formed a solid partnership with Ashwini Ponnappa winning the world championship bronze medal apart from gold and silver at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games respectively.
“I can’t think of one doubles players with whom I want to play today,” Gutta said on Tuesday. “I am in the junior selection panel. I see the list of players, what I think is we need a complete overhaul in doubles. We need a different ecosystem for doubles, that how doubles will come up.”
She continued, “Doubles doesn’t need a coach right now. Doubles need a correction in the administration in doubles. The whole system is wrong in doubles now.”
Gutta also called for the better marketing of achievements in doubles circuit. “First of all, people are not being educated about the importance of doubles. I feel sad that even the doubles players don’t speak about it. Doubles players achievement need to be highlighted,” she said.
She also expressed her concern over whether India will have representation in women’s doubles at the Tokyo Olympics next year. “Are you sure about women’s doubles and mixed doubles qualifying for Olympics?,” Jwala asked. “When I stopped playing, you tried to put me down. So I was not there last two years so what have you done? So don’t you think I was right all this while? Don’t you think I have the credential to lead and head the doubles today but certain people don’t want me.”
In the women’s doubles, Ponnappa and partner N Sikki Reddy are currently ranked 30th in the world while in the mixed doubles Sikki and Pranaav Jerry Chopra are ranked 28th. 16 pairs from each doubles event will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics as per their place in the ranking chart which will be released on April 30, 2020.
Gutta also levelled questioned the conflict of interest allegations against national coach Pullela Gopichand.
“He (Gopichand) is chief coach, chief selector, owns his academy, District Association President, secretary of Telangana Association, part of Khelo India, part of PBL, part of Gosports — it is all on papers, it is not my imagination. So if there is conflict of interest, ask questions,” she said.
She also asked why coaching camps are being held only in Hyderabad. “Before I have attended camps at many places such as Bangalore, Jalandhar, and after 2006, it has only been happening at the Gopichand academy in Hyderabad. I had no problems since I live there, but it is not fair. Why camps only in Hyderabad?
“Tell me how many Telugu players are there in Indian team? Are you trying to tell me that in last 10 years India couldn’t produce a non-Telugu player to play for the country, Even people who are non-Telugu, they are playing for Telangana state,” she said.