Badminton Life

Government Ruins Gopichand's Academy Dream

India's badminton scene has become mired in politics after former All England champion Pullela Gopichand's hopes of starting an academy was foiled by a state leader.

Gopichand, India's last All England men's singles winner was moving ahead with building his academy on land given as a gift by the government.

However, according to media reports, YSR Reddy, the chief minister of Indian state Andhra Pradesh, has ordered that the land be returned.

The Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy was meant to be one of the best in India, to complement that of another Indian All England champion, Prakash Padukone, who runs a school in Bangalore.

The land was a gift from former state leader Chandrababbu Naidu. However, his successor, Reddy, wants the land to be given to the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh instead.

The government's decision is based on the fact that the academy will have a swimming pool and tennis court in order to help with the overall development of badminton players.

The government is adamant that these facilities will be of no use to badminton players. According to Indian media, the government order read as follows:

"The plan submitted shows that in the remaining area what is proposed are Children Play Area, Tennis court, and Swimming pool which are neither critical to Badminton Academy nor constructed upon."

Gopichand, not surprisingly, was devastated by the decision. He was quoted as saying: "I have read this news in the newspapers. But clearly the government has alloted this land to build a sports and badminton academy and not badminton courts alone.

"If you want an academy, across training and sport is a very important thing. We need other sports also to be played because otherwise you are using the same set of muscles over and over again."

Apart from the heartbreak of seeing his dream academy destroyed, Gopichand may also face financial difficulties because of a hefty loan he took out to build the complex.

He said: "I think personally there is a lot of effort put in. Not only the money part of it, but the amount of effort gone on to build this is tremendous. That's something which we can't even measure."

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