Jwala Gutta calls for improving standard of doubles players in India as she launches her 'Academy of Excellence'

Avinash Sharma

New Delhi, December 10, 2019: Indian badminton star Jawala Gutta officially launched her Jwala Gutta Academy of Excellence at a glittering launch ceremony in New Delhi on Tuesday (December 10).

Gutta, an Arjuna Awardee and Olympian, is the founder and promoter of the academy and said her academy will start nurturing youth and harnessing nascent talent. The state-of-the-art complex in Hyderabad will entail training facilities for a plethora of sports, including cricket, badminton and swimming to name a few.

Speaking at the launch, Gutta, Founder & Promoter of the academy said, "Being a sportswoman has really made me realize the importance of discipline and consistency, not just in sports, but in general life as well.

"I had a vision of creating an academy for passionate minds in order to help them achieve the success they are destined for. With the Jwala Gutta Academy of Excellence. I will strive to inculcate discipline in those who are willing to learn and towards making them good and contributing members of society," the ace shuttler said.

'Will hire foreign coaches'

The Hyderabad-based shuttler said she'll be hiring foreign coaches as well as good coaches in the country for her academy and they'll also look for training the coaches and trainers to increase the pool of good coaches.

"Initially, I will be hiring foreign coaches because that is the need of the hour. Simultaneously, we'll look to train the trainers to ensure we have a sizable number of quality coaches in the coming years. At the moment, there are a handful of qualified coaches in the country," said Gutta.

'No competition with Gopichand Academy'

When asked if her academy will compete with India badminton coach Pullela Gopichand's academy in Hyderabad, the 36-year-old said her academy will be acting as an alternative and a healthy competition will ensure increasing the talent pool in the country which will help the sport in general.

"I don't feel that way and I think healthy competition is only good for the sport. During my playing days, I used to compete with my fellow teammates to bring out the best in me. Setting up an academy has been a long-standing dream for me and it is finally going to become a reality," she stressed.

At the event, the official logo of the academy was also unveiled.

Comprising 14 courts in total and with a seating capacity of over 600 people, the Jwala Gutta Academy of Excellence is located in the outskirts of Hyderabad in Sujatha High School, Gachibowli. Other facilities include a world-class gym and a yoga centre to provide athletes with a one-stop destination for all necessities.

'Work towards increasing doubles players' pool'

Gutta who is a Commonwealth Games 2010 gold-medallist in women's doubles category lamented the fact that the doubles' players are not treated equally by the federation, as well as the fans and her focus, will be on harnessing the doubles' players.

"Honestly speaking, there is hardly any attention given to the doubles players in our country. I am a member of the selection committee in the federation and with my experience, I can say that there's no pool for doubles' players in the country at the moment. Hence, my focus will be on mentoring the kids and encouraging them to take up doubles and excel. Hopefully, that will end the disparity," she said further.

Gutta also seemed disappointed with the dearth of quality women players in doubles and mixed doubles, asking for a complete systemic overhaul in order to generate results.

"I can't think of one doubles players with whom I want to play today. I am in the junior selection panel. I see the list of players, what I think is we need a complete overhaul in doubles. We need a different ecosystem for doubles, that how doubles will come up," Jwala said.

"Doubles doesn't need a coach right now. Doubles need a correction in the administration in doubles. The whole system is wrong in doubles now.

"First of all, people are not being educated about the importance of doubles. I feel sad that even the doubles players don't speak about it. Doubles players achievement need to be highlighted."

Olympic medallists grace the event

The glittering event was also graced by two time Olympic Medallist and Indian Wrestler Sushil Kumar who was also accompanied by Indian Professional Boxer and Olympic Bronze Medallist - Vijender Singh.

The press conference was also graced by Rajiv Pratap Rudy - Member of Parliament and former Union Minister who came in support of the Jwala's initiative.

Vijender Singh wholeheartedly offered his support to the initiative and said, "As an athlete myself, I know the struggle behind finding training facilities and good mentors. The Jwala Gutta Academy of Excellence has one of the best training infrastructures in the country and I am proud to be here today to support this beautiful idea, which is now a reality."

Wrestler and Double Olympic Medallist, Sushil Kumar, also underpinned his endorsement and congratulated Gutta for thinking of giving it back to the game.

He said, "The youth are our future, and academies like these are crucial to providing talent across the country a home where they can train and perform to their best of abilities. I wish Jwala Gutta and her team all the very best going forward. I will always be available to support in any way I can. This is a noble step for she has finally started to give it back to the sport that has given her everything."

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