National badminton coach Pullela Gopichand has come out in support of PV Sindhu and backed the shuttler to dismiss her dip in form. Sindhu became the first Indian shuttler to win a World Championships gold but has since, managed to win just six matches in seven tournaments. With a crucial year lined up which includes the Tokyo Olympics 2020, Gopichand is confident of Sindhu coming back strong.

“I think she is too good a player to not come good. Yes, the results haven’t been there but we will turn it back. We need to make some changes and we will get her back,” Gopichand said during the launch of Badminton Gurukul in Mumbai.

The coach explained how playing tournaments consistently and without break is not in the best of interest of shuttlers, holding the crammed BWF schedule responsible for players’ recent lack of form. With a few slots still available to book a berth for Tokyo Games, Indian shuttlers have a strong chance till April to qualify, but Gopichand reckons certain changes need to be made.

“We have had some not so good results so it is obvious that we need to buck up and get better. It’s just ending up they are playing tournaments after tournaments so there has hardly been any time for preparation. Having said that, I think sooner or later we have to ensure that people get back on track and start preparing,” the 46-year-old added.

“I think May June, July will be the key months for preparation. But hopefully we’ll have a big contingent getting in and qualifying whether it’s men’s singles or women singles or doubles, I think especially with the format of the Olympics, whoever qualifies has a chance in Tokyo.”

The Indian badminton scenario has undergone dramatic change in the last few years. Indian players’ dominance on the world stage stands testimony to the fact that the subcontinent has emerged as a badminton powerhouse on the global arena. And to continue this up charge India needs to do a lot more not just in the development programmes at grass root level but in the field of coaching as well. Badminton Gurukul, an initiative by the quintessential badminton superstar Gopichand and former international shuttler Supriya Devgun, is trying to address that and more.

The outreach is from grassroots programmes to enthusiastic adults, and this will hugely increase the badminton playing population in India. Their focus is on contributing significantly towards introduction of a strong and sustainable physical literacy programme across India. They make excellence accessible by having on board highly skilled and trained coaches personally handpicked by Gopichand who will work with and mentor the students supported by a strong standardised curriculum, solid infrastructure and the latest technology available.

“With the kind of results we’ve had in the international arena, and the unexpected boom badminton has seen in the last few years, a lot of badminton courts that have come up, and consequently there is an increased requirement for quality badminton coaches across the country. Keeping all this in mind, Badminton Gurukul have come up with this unique knowledge sharing forum where we are involving the ex-players to come forward and share their experience with the young and upcoming shuttlers,” Gopichand added.

“This is not just coaching, but many steps ahead of that. These players have experienced elite coaching programmes first hand and played at the highest level to understand the hard work and rigour required to succeed at the top level. This is an excellent combination and I am sure it will improve the quality of coaching across India and will lead to a greater talent pool across the country.”

Its aim is to institutionalize Badminton give a second wing career opportunity to ex-achievers. It is also a social story where even beginner students get good sparring experience, access to inter Badminton Gurukul tournaments, and if they show potential then a path forward can be shown to them to excel in the sport.