Pullela Gopichand proposes mini-leagues to restart sports in the country 


India’s national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand recently proposed the creation of bio-secure bubbles to help facilitate the organisation of mini-leagues among the top players, in an initiative to restart sports in the country.

In the absence of state level and national level events taking place with all sporting action brought to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pullela Gopichand feels organizing mini-leagues and getting things started is the way ahead.

Pullela Gopichand (centre) with his students Saina Nehwal (left) and PV Sindhu (right).
Pullela Gopichand (centre) with his students Saina Nehwal (left) and PV Sindhu (right).

On Wednesday, Pullela Gopichand spoke at a webinar supported by IDBI Federal Life Insurance and the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and FIT India, titled ‘Sports, Fitness, Lockdown – What is the way forward?’.

The Arjuna awardee proposed the concept of having leagues for the top players to ensure that there is some sporting action in the country, which players will benefit from.

The webinar attracted around 10,000 people, who listened with rapt attention at what the panelists had to say about the future of sports in India.

“It may not be possible to organise massive national or state level tournaments like we used to do in pre-COVID times due to social distancing norms. But we can surely look at a number of leagues in each sport among top players, as per their levels,” the legendary badminton coach Pullela Gopichand suggested.

The AFI president supports Pullela Gopichand’s proposal

Pullela Gopichand
Pullela Gopichand’s suggestion has been backed by the AFI president.

Gopichand’s idea has also found favour with the president of the AFI Adille Sumariwalla, who supported the proposal of creating leagues. For Sumariwalla, conducting leagues would act as a boon as, by participating in these events, Indian players could stay in sharp form for the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

“Our elite athletes have been in camps since June and will go into deep training from October. We have just chalked out our detailed programme calendar and we are hoping to see serious competition from January onwards,” said the president of the AFI .

The postponement of the Olympics is also being seen as a good sign by Sumariwalla. The AFI President said, “We are confident of a much better showing due to the delay in the Olympics, as our young athletes will be more mature and better prepared.”

The other point that both Pullela Gopichand and Sumariwalla stressed on during the webinar, which was attended by bigshots like the NEB Sports CMD Nagaraj Adiga, Arjuna awardees Reeth Abraham, Nisha Millet and national steeplechaser Sudha Singh, was that the top players should be declared COVID warriors.

Published 17 Sep 2020, 14:46 IST

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