New Delhi: Newly-appointed Badminton Association of India President Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday laid out his vision to make India a world superpower of the game by next Olympics, with plans of setting up of five new national academies and making domestic circuit stronger.
Sarma, who was appointed the interim head last month following the sudden demise of former president Akhilesh Das Gupta, also touched upon issues such as age fraud, team selection, death of infrastructure and lack of participation of top players in domestic circuit.
“BAI fraternity is looking for an Olympic gold, so we have prepared a roadmap taking into consideration all the views of top players, coaches and also taking the game to grassroot,” he said at a conclave organised by the BAI here.
Top Indian shuttlers have given a miss to the National Championship over the last few years and Sarma said he had interacted with the players regarding the issue and they have agreed to participate in one of the events in a year.
“We have discussed with the players about the issue. If Saina or Sindhu or Srikanth can play in say Srinagar or Patna or Guwahati that will create a lot of positive impact for the games because they are not only players but role models,” Sarma said.
“So the players have agreed in principle but you have to look at their international calendar. Today, a decision has been taken that the players will discuss among themselves and suggest us a calendar where they can be seen more on the domestic circuit,” he added.
Sarma said BAI has formed a committee to standardise the national academy (Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad) and plans to set up five new academies across the four zones and Northeast by the end of this year. “We need to standardise the national academy in the country because all players cannot travel to Hyderabad to train,” he said.
“What I understood is if a player from Northeast has to stay in Hyderabad then he has to change his entire culture, food habits and also stay away from parents, so a committee has been formed which will set a standard as what a national academy looks like. Then we will work with the government of India and state governments to get at least five centres to that level and BAI will get coaches and other support system. If top coaches like Mohd Arif and Vimal Kumar can travel and oversee then it will be great,” he said.
Sarma also said he would address the issue of some doubles players’ complaints that they were not treated properly and also vowed to bring in transparency in team selection. “We have to select the team early so that the players who are not in the team and are not funded by BAI or government and still want to travel, can do without any issue. We now impose fine on them... that has to change,” he said.
“Another issue is that of insurance. We want to have good insurance scheme for the players so that if a player gets injured and is out of long time it can be of some help,” Sarma added.
Stressing on the importance of the use of services of retired players, Sarma said: “Around 200 players play in different levels and once they leave active sport they want to still contribute. This huge talent pool has to be utilised for the betterment of the game.”
The conclave was attended by all top players, including Saina Nehwal, P. V. Sindhu, chief national coach Pullela Gopichand, along with other dignitaries and members of state associations.