Talent identification, physical literacy key to sports development: Pullela Gopichand

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on January 04, 2020

A file photo of P Gopichand, national badminton coach   -  The Hindu/KVS Giri

India's chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand says the country has to focus on talent identification and physical literacy for the development of sports and progress of the country as a whole.

“If alphabets, words and sentences in some sequence are called alphabetical literacy and if numbers, additions, subtractions, multiplications in some sequence are called numerical literacy then probably crawling, walking, running, jumping and throwing in some sequence would be called physical literacy,” Gopichand said.

Delivering a keynote address at the NIT Trichy's Global Alumni Meet (GAM 2020) held here on Saturday, Gopichand said, “We as a nation have gone up alphabetically and numerically in the last 50 years but we have actually gone down physically in the last 30 years.”

Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy (PGBA), a world class badminton training facility was set up by the former Indian Badminton player in Hyderabad in 2001. The academy has produced some of the finest badminton players in the country which includes Saina Nehwal, P. V. Sindhu, Srikanth Kidambi, Parupalli Kashyap, H.S. Prannoy, Sai Praneeth to name a few.

“In the last few years, my idea of sports was all about picking the best gene and best talent and focussing on them repeatedly so that they produce the best result. But around 2015, a 13-year old girl changed my entire perception of sports,” Gopichand said.

Recalling an incident, Gopichand said, one of the basic exercises in badminton is to throw a shuttle to the opponent, catch it back and then throw it again. The action is similar to the action of hitting a shuttlecock with the racket.

“There was this 13-year-old girl who missed catching the shuttle everytime it was thrown to her. After a long training session, I was annoyed and moved on. But after the training, the girl asked me, ‘Sir, teach me how to catch’ and that changed a lot of things in my life," Gopichand said.

“I started asking questions. Are we, as teachers, doing the right thing by looking for talent or should we be asking questions like - my kids or student is talented and it is my duty to find out where his talent is,” Gopichand said.

He also added that the word 'talent identification' should be changed to 'talent mapping'.

Recalling his own journey from a cricket loving kid to go all the way to clinch the ‘All England Open Badminton Championships’ title in 2001, the Padma Bhushan Awardee said, “Our journeys should be a journey of excellence which is to be the best of what we can be and not to be better at what the next person is.”

The third edition of the Global Alumni Meet saw participation of over 1,200 alumni along with their family and more than 300 faculty members and students.

Published on January 04, 2020

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