The The $2.5 million Gopichand Badminton Academy is running overbooked after having produced greats like Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu.
Creating history by storming into the Women’s singles badminton, players like P.V. Sindhu clinching a silver medal in Rio Olympics 2016 and Saina Nehwal winning a bronze in London Olympics 2012 set examples of world class players India is capable to produce. Behind this inspiring success there is a coach and his world-class badminton academy churning out champions day in and out. Pullela Gopichand, the Chief National Coach of the Indian badminton team who runs the Gopichand Badminton Academy, Hyderabad has trained and mentored the stars of badminton.
Gopichand is the winner of the prestigious All England Open Badminton Championship of 2001. He started his career in 1991 and trained under Prakash Padukone, another former Indian champion. Winning a gold in the SAARC badminton tournament in 1996, and lifting trophies at the Toulouze open championship in France and the Scottish open championship in Scotland in 1999, he proved that badminton is the sport of next-gen. He also won a bronze and a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games of 1998. After achieving his career best ranking of 5 in 2001, he decided to retire and channelise his efforts towards breeding the next generation of badminton players.
About the academy
Established in 2008, Gopichand Badminton Academy is a badminton training facility in Hyderabad, India. Founded by Gopichand, the facility trains several badminton players such as Saina Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap, Srikanth Kidambi, P. V. Sindhu, Arundhati Pantawane, Gurusai Datt and Arun Vishnu.
The funding saga
Gopichand could initially raise $500,000 for his academy with the help of his relative and entrepreneur Nimmagadda Prasad. Prasad also helped Gopichand raise another $2 million for the academy. But that was the only amount he could raise. However, Gopichand wanted to make sure he gave his sportspersons the best of facilities, infrastructure and training, and therefore, decided to mortgage his house for additional funds.
The best of training, discipline and facilities
Gopichand’s fondness of starting practice early is known. For years, it was in the 4.30 am shift that Olympic finalist PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap trained before the then celebrated players, stars such as Saina Nehwal, arrived for the 6 am shift. He's the first one on courts at 4:15 and leaves after the last student returns home. The students have no Internet access and are allowed mobile phone calls only on Sundays. Common areas of the academy – apart from the 16 rooms and three dormitories – are under CCTV surveillance. With the levels that they play, one has to be at 100 per cent all the time which needs committed practice. Discipline and regimentation are important for sport or excellence.
The $2.5 million badminton training academy contains eight courts, a swimming pool, weight training room, cafeteria and rooms to sleep.
The construction of this facility was modeled after Bangalore's Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, which is headed by Prakash Padukone. The architectural design was completed by Hyderabad-based Arvee Consultants. The wooden flooring of the courts were made as per international standards In addition, physiotherapy, food and diet programs are also made available. They have recently started their unit in Salem, Tamil Nadu also.
The Academy has also served as a venue for major sporting events. The 2009 Indian Open games were held there while the 2009 BWF World Championships used it as a training venue.
Even though India has been long known as a cricket crazy country and the cricket academies here flourish in huge numbers, Gopichand Badminton Academy is overbooked for years to come due to its audacity to produce world class sportsmen. It is an example of how running a sports academy and producing such players requires zeal, patience, determination and untiring efforts.