All England Championship winner Pullela Gopichand has warned that badminton coaching in India needs to be a focus for administrators if they are to build on recent successes in the sport.
Gopichand's comments come on the heels of an India double at the China Open, when Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth won the women and men's finals. As head of the Gopichand Badminton Academy, Gopichand knows what he is talking about. He is Nehwal's former coach and still trains Srikanth.
Gopichand was addressing a 'Youth Conclave', organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry Young Indians when he said: "While there is plenty of talent and ideas in the country, what's important is execution part and work ethics adherence. Hard work and work ethics are difficult to get. To produce the next level of players is the toughest job. Infrastructure building is the easiest part of the entire structure. To have people committed, motivated in working over a period of time which is probably eight to ten years is a tough job. "
He added: "Unless you have great coaches, you cannot have great pupils or students coming in. At the moment, our challenge is that coaching is not looked at the way it should be looked at. The best minds don't get into coaching. India won about 60 medals in the last Asian Games, but how many coaches' names we know?"
"If you don't produce quality coaches, you cannot produce next level of players."
He also commented on the pair's wins in China, saying: "This hasn't happened in Indian sport ever before. Indian national anthem being played and national flag being hoisted twice in a day in badminton in China, where badminton is almost a national sport, is huge. I feel that this is it; there cannot be better than this. For the country to move forward, pride is important and sports brings that much needed pride in us."