National badminton coach Pullela Gopichand stressed on the need to build an ecosystem for coaches and the sport in India as he formally launched Badminton Gurukul in Mumbai on Thursday.

Badminton Gurukul, an initiative by the former shuttler in association with Supriya Devgun, is a grassroots development system for players and coaches across India. With the support of several former Olympians, international, and national players, it is a programme that will run at various badminton centres across India in an effort to standardise the coaching and curriculum of the sport.

They have already set up 28 training centres at 14 cities across India where over a thousand students are undergoing training under 20 former national and international badminton players. The program will be at already existing badminton centres, with added curriculum, mentorship, tournaments and technology.

“When I finished my career, I had the formula of how to play at the level but I didn’t have the body. That is when I started coaching,” said Gopichand at the event in Mumbai.

But while he has become one of the most successful coaches in the country and badminton as a sport is booming, the lack of a follow-up system with more coaches in all parts of the country is acutely felt. This idea behind this initiative is therefore to provide right coaching and a standardised system for children, no matter which part of the country they are at.

“Basically, we have former players who have been talking about lack of coaches and how to kind of get over that issue. And also when people move from players to coaches, the kind of coaching and curriculum that they need, that is structure is what we’re trying to make,” Gopichand, the Founder Director, told reporters.

Whether it is Anup [Sridhar] or Aparna [Popat] teaching you, all of our experiences come together to put in a structure, which actually helps budding coaches develop faster. We want to take it across the country because otherwise, it remains to a few pockets and kids across the country will never have access to good coaching,” he added.

“There is there is a curriculum, the curriculum and they will be coach development programs. And they will be interactions between various players to ensure that whatever is needed. See if a coach in Assam has an issue, Where is the answer? That’s what we want technology and experience to kind of address,” he explained.

The other important aspect of this initiative is the focus on former players as coaches. Many national and international level players were brought back from office jobs and given the chance to be associated with the sport and still make living.

The trained coaches are personally picked by Gopichand who will work with students, including Anil Pradhan, Asawari Parmar, Mitesh Hajirnis, Oli Deka, Nirmala Kotnis, Nancy Tendon and D Guruprasad. The team include Olympians Aparna Popat, Anup Sridhar, Laxmi Gopichand, V Diju as well.

“We want to give a second wing career for our ex-achievers, put together high-quality professionally-run events, standardise operations and bring in a curriculum, and with all these, we are trying to institutionalise the sport,” said international shuttler Supriya Devgun.