Badminton star Jwala Gutta, on Tuesday, launched her centre of excellence. But the centre, she insists, won’t merely churn out players. “Personalities,” she says. “I want to develop an individual in a way that it reflects who they actually are.”
Arguably, it is this trait of hers that led her to being sidelined from the national team. Gutta’s remarks against national coach Pullela Gopichand and the constant bickering for close to a decade has led to an unpleasant equation between the two.
Gutta has expressed her unhappiness that the national badminton camps are held at Gopichand’s academy in Hyderabad. That Gopichand was also a selector led her to raise the conflict of interest issue.
Now, Gutta has launched her own academy in Hyderabad at a time when she herself is in the selection committee.
“I didn’t have a choice,” she says. “Having an academy would probably also give me some strength. It’s like my muscle. I can speak more. I go to selection committee meetings and 90 percent of them are from one place. I am left defending the other 10 percent. I think we neededa second option in our country. It was high time.”
— dinesh akula (@dineshakula) December 10, 2019
The ‘second option’, as she calls her centre, is spread over 55 acres and comprises 14 courts.
The space, she says, has been bought on lease using her father’s retirement benefits and selling one of their houses. The support promised by the state government seven years ago, of giving her land, was never kept, she claims.
Her long-term plan is to convert this into a Sports Authority of India centre. Whether it is realistically possible remains a question as SAI already supports a centre run by Gopichand in Gachibowli. Gutta says she won’t coach the trainees herself, but will don the role of a mentor.
“I have already approached (SM) Arif sir. He will look over the academy overall. We will appoint two foreign coaches. I will need at least 10 coaches for 14 courts, so I am looking for Indian coaches. But I’ll be mentoring. I know who’s capable of coaching and who is the real coach (laughs). Coaching is very pious and frankly, it’s a lot of hard work,” she says.