Pullela Gopichand has stated that Badminton is the most flourishing sport in India, given the fact of how the game has developed in India in the past decade. The former All England champion started coaching in 2004 when there weren’t enough courts in Hyderabad, but the scene has changed now.
Shuttlers like Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu, P. Kashyap, and Kidambi Srikkanth have put Indian badminton on the front seat in the past decade, with a couple of Olympic medals to go along with. When Pullela Gopichand started coaching with 25 trainees back in 2004, which included Srikkanth, Saina and Sindhu, there were only 10 courts and a handful of academics in Hyderabad. But, a decade and a half down the line, the sport has grown immensely, with numerous academies cropping up across the country, along with an influx of kids taking up badminton seriously.
"I can say, this is the sport (badminton) which has developed the most in the country in the past 10 years or so. When I started my coaching career in 2004, there were just 10 good courts in Hyderabad but now there are more than 1000," he said during a webinar,” said Pullela Gopichand, as reported by The Times of India.
"There are so many academies coming up in the country, so many kids from all over the country, Punjab, Mizoram and even abroad coming to my academy to train with even one of the parents opting to stay in Hyderabad with the child. So there is enormous interest in the sport now,” added the 2001 All England Champion.
Gopichand feels that the cost of playing the sport will reduce gradually over the years with the growing popularity of the game. The coach admitted that he never thought India would end up winning medals at the Olympics when he started coaching back in 2004.
"What has been happening in the past some years (India producing world-beaters) is one side of it and what is coming up in future is another side. I believe the sport is well poised (for further development) in the future. Moreover, the cost of the shuttle is going to go down in the next few years with the introduction of synthetic shuttles. That should make the sport more flourishing in the years to come,” concluded Gopichand.