As the famous saying from Hollywood’s Spiderman movie ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ goes, Gopichand has grown from a badminton player to opening his private academy, the chief coach, association secretary, national selector and governing council member in IBL. He is also the secretary in Telangana Badminton Association. With so many roles to play things are ought to go wrong if the responsibilities are not performed diligently and without any partiality. Being the chief coach what every player expects from you when you play a good game is just a verbal recognition from the person who they look up to as their ideal and when this is not happening someday or the other things will go wrong and this is just what is happening between the world champion Jwala Gutta and chief coach Gopichand.
After a tiring tournament of CWG 2014 when all the badminton players came back home the party was only for a few. While all the players headed to the Gopichand academy for the celebration CWG silver medallists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa were absent for the event courtesy Gopichand. Jwala who was only hungry of the much required pat on her back from Gopichand for her performance broke her patience and said that they were not even informed by their chief coach about the welcome which was supposed to be for all the players but only few favourite players who obey the orders of the chief coach were invited. However Jwala said since all these days she had got used to such treatment and was perhaps aware that she would not be called and even if they had been invited she was not sure if they would have come or not.
Jwala Gutta is a doubles badminton player who represents India on the international levels. Its been more than 15 years since she has joined this game and has the credit to win the National Badminton Championships fourteen times till 2013. Though she initially partnered with Shruti Kurien but found huge success with Ashwini Ponnappa and the pair has been consistently ranked among the top 20 in the world. She has brought number of medals some of which were first for the country won by any player. One of her historic moments was her bronze at the 2014 Thomas & Uber Cup tournament. She also has India’s second highest sporting honour Arjuna Award for her achievements as a badminton player. Indian badminton player Jwala Gutta also made her debut in a special appearance in the tollywood movie Gunde Jaari Gallanthayyinde.
Breaking her long growing silence when all the players met KCR and while he was congratulating the winner, Jwala opened up and said her coach was SM Arif sir and not Gopichand. She was waiting for her chance and when she got her chance she said to KCR ‘I am sorry to interrupt you Sir, but I want to tell you that Arif Sir is my coach’.
KCR Sir smiled and nodded and latter came to know that Arif Sir was coach of Gopichand too. All that Gopichand could do is just smile at the incident. Latter an announcement of 50 lakh was also made for Arif who was in fact not invited to the meet at the CM’s office.
Even after the return from the Olympics the girls did not get any recognition from their coach as he was becoming the coach of few rather than all the players which was becoming discriminating. She also feels that the players were suffering at the hands for the chief coach and says “There are players who suffer. And I know they will never be able to speak out. I am at a place where I can speak because I have medals to show what I am capable of. People think I only complain, but I cannot do anything other than speak the truth. The biggest proof of discrimination between singles and doubles players is the fact that we came back with no medals in the team event. If people are still trying to overlook this and pretend to be blind, I can’t really help it, unless I get into a stronger position like getting into the association.”
As per Jwala chief coach is hungry of credit and can go to the extent of ending your career if you do not obey his orders. Unlike other countries where they get government support in India a player has to bear their own cost as nobody encourages them and when they achieve something the credit is taken away by someone else. Last year also when the BAI’s disciplinary committee had recommended a life ban on Jwala for allegedly trying to stop some players of her franchise Krrish Delhi Smashers from playing a match against Banga Beats in the Indian Badminton League Gopichand was quiet while former coaches Arif and Vimal had voiced their comments supporting Jwala. She says that he could have told her what she was doing is wrong but at least take her stand. Instead he chose to be mum.
In response to the fury gutted out by Jwala, Gopichand feels that he has done nothing wrong and everyone in the country have the freedom to voice their heart out. If their opinion about him is wrong and if he tells them something also it will not change them due to the preconceived notion they have about him in their minds. Hence it is better that he does not give attention to such matters and concentrate on his work.
Pullela Gopichand is a former Indian badminton player who was the second Indian to win the All England Open Badminton Championships after Prakash Padukone. He runs the Gopichand Badminton Academy who latter became thr coach replacing Arif. Gopichand won his first National Badminton Championship title in 1996 and latter went on to win the title five times in a row. He also won two gold and one silver at the Indian national games. He has Arjuna Award, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Padma Shri, Dronacharya Award and Padma Bhushan awards to his credit. He preaches what he believes in and set an example when he rejected the Coco Cola ad for its health hazards and stopped consuming them himself.
Whether Jwala is correct or Gopichand is correct will come out in sometime. However the facts revealed by Jwala make it evident that the chief coach is acting biased towards few players and also only the players from his academy are being allowed to play in the tournaments. Whether a political angle is also involved in it is also not clear. We wish that the truth comes out early and the guilty are punished and proper action is taken against them which sets an example to others and no one ever repeats the same.