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Chief National coach Pullela Gopichand has been credited with shaping a generation of Indian badminton stars. Not only that, he is in a way also responsible for making badminton one of the popular sports in the country. But clearly that isn’t enough to save his job.

If the Badminton Association of India (BAI) has it’s way, Gopichand may not be at the helm of coaching affairs in a few months if the proposed amendments to the constitution see the light of day.

Among the many changes proposed to the existing constitution, one seeks to do away with post of the National Coach and replace it with a panel of National Coaches for a two-year period. The members of the panel will not be allowed to hold any post as office bearers or members in BAI or any of its member associations.

As per the current constitution, the National Coach has a tenure of four years and Gopichand has been holding the post since 2006 with a team of coaches assisting him. He is also the secretary of Telangana Badminton Association.

The proposed draft of amendments, which The Field has accessed, was circulated among the Executive Committee (EC) members last week and they were asked to submit their suggestions, alterations and deletions before May 31 to the secretary and other office bearers. The final proposal will then officially come up for discussion and vote during the Executive Committee Meeting in Bangalore on June 11.

“We can’t say it is finalised as the house will decide,” said an EC member on condition of anonymity.

Explaining the logic behind the proposal, he said, “If you are a chemistry professor you can’t teach Physics and Mathematics well. The same is true for singles and doubles and we want to have separate coaches for singles, doubles and juniors.”

In the past, BAI had appointed separate Junior National Coach and a doubles coach but they would ultimately work with the National Coach.

A system that worked

Opinion is divided on the issue as some people feel that though there is a definite need to broad base the coaching system, a move like removing the National Coach position all together could destabilise the process that has brought so much success and made the sport popular.

Newly elected BAI president Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma has already hinted at the need for more regional centres across the country and giving more impetus to doubles. He also held a conclave with players, coaches and state association members earlier this month to understand their point of view on the road ahead.

BAI has since then decided to announce the official team for tournaments early for the benefit of players who want to play tournaments at their own cost and has been working towards streamlining the selection process for players and coaching travelling with the team.

It is reliably learnt that during the conclave one senior player, who has had considerable success on the international circuit, had requested the president to look into a mechanism to ensure that the decision making powers are not vested in one individual as then he/she can make or break careers.

Attempts to contact Gopi Chand did not bear fruit as he is currently out of India on a personal trip.

Apart from the changes to the coaching structure, the other proposed points include giving more powers to senior vice president to act in the absence of the president and removing the voting rights of institutional organisations like Air India, PSPB and Railways, CAG and Inter University Sports Control Board.