13 Dec 2018 21:27 IST

Nutrition, coaching and a fitness ecosystem

Badminton legend P Gopichand talks to IIM-A students on role of health in making India a superpower

As a part of the reunion celebrations of IIMA’s batch of 1989, Padmabhushan P Gopichand was invited to speak at IIM Ahmedabad on sports, nutrition, health and the requirement of a comprehensive emphasis on developing coaching facilities for various sports in India.

A famed badminton player and subsequently a coach for several stars such as Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Parupalli Kashyap, Gopichand has a host of awards to his name, including the Padmabhushan, awarded to him in 2014.

The famed badminton coach began his talk by reminiscing about the manner in which he took up badminton, and the difference in the sociocultural atmosphere from then to now. Inspired by the exploits of Kapil’s devils in 1983, Gopichand, like a millions of other inspired kids of that generation, wanted to play cricket too. But some luck and a small logistical issue ensured that he picked up badminton instead. He spoke of the days in which he was coached as a player, and the paucity of proper sporting resources and facilities during the early days of his career, which improved his game in its own way.

Importance of coaching

He went on to describe the advent of his coaching career and the obstacles he faced while building the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy, during which he even faced a situation where he had to mortgage his house to complete the construction of the stadium.

As one of the most well-known coaches in contemporary badminton, Gopichand’s players have achieved stellar status in the world of badminton. “Make a good coach”, he said, “and he’ll serve you for 40 years in a sport. Develop a player, and you will have 5-10 years.”

Fitness is crucial

The seasoned coach reflected on the philosophy of sport itself, and emphasised that medals, though significant achievements, are not inherently equitable measures. Olympics events, through a combination of their origins and history, have always incorporated multiple variants of sports that Europeans originally excelled at. Hence, while pitting ourselves against them is a reflection of sportsmanship, the number of medals we win is not a reflection of the country’s greatness.

He added that while the hunger to win is desirable in every player, every person who took the decision to stay fit by either playing, dancing or physically engaging oneself in any other way is a winner in oneself.

The talk reflected the deep thought and concern that he felt on the subject, and his passion to improve the wellness and health of people in the country.