Bring a law to free sports from politicians, bureaucrats: Gopichand

New Delhi, Feb 25 (PTI) Legendary shuttler Pullela Gopichand was on Sunday extremely critical of politicians and bureaucrats running sports administration in the country, saying that the government should bring a law to ensure only professionals and people who understand sports are at the helm of affairs.

Speaking during the ‘News9 Global Summit’ here, the former All England champion, who runs a badminton academy in Hyderabad producing top players said, “One legislation, I would really love to see is the government telling that we (sportspersons) are not under bureaucrats, sports administration is not under politicians. But sports is managed by professionals and people who know stuff and who are sportspersons.

“That, from a legislation point I would really want to see,” said Gopichand, who is also currently the chief national badminton coach.

He also called upon the government and other stakeholders to streamline the processes where an athlete could just concentrate on his training and performance without having to bother about other issues.

“From policy makers, there are two things that are important. For performance, there are too many people involved, there are the (sports) associations, government, private parties, managers; there’s a whole of ecosystem.

“So, I think that needs to be streamlined. Because on one side is the corporate and marketing side, the entire ecosystem of very different things. But performance is a purely different ball game.

“It needs a set of people who are really committed, whether it’s players, coaches and support staff and an ecosystem which builds performance. We need to keep that isolated from the rest of it. So, I would really say ‘boss get this done for us (athletes)’,” he added.

While Gopichand was happy with the phenomenal success and growth of sports in the country, he also pointed out the flip side of it, saying, kids could be leaving education for better prospects in sports.

“We have grown too fast as a country in sport, we are still pushing forward in big force and that is amazing. But, I think, we need to look at the entire ecosystem, because all it takes is one generation of failed sportspersons to show to the society, or the society will see it and say, ‘there is no use playing sports’. So, don’t want that to happen,” he said.

“What is also happening is that kids, players are taking up sport (and) leaving education. For some it’s happening at nine (years of age) and that is a big case of concern. Because, at the end of the day, sport has a very thin margin of people.

“We have people speaking about how there are 6,000 kids across various sports who are given Rs 6 lakh or Rs 3 lakh a month (year from the government).” He wondered what will happen to the “5,600 people who don’t make it (to the top)”.

“Where are they going for their jobs? Are they skilled enough for their next journey? “This is a big case of concern for me, who has seen the entire ecosystem of sport. For me, I think, you fail at 21 (in sports) and if you have the education and skill-set. But what happens if that guy has no education at all. This is a cause for concern,” he added.

“Thousands of people take up sport and a very small percentage is successful. What happens to the huge number who don’t make it. How are we going to ensure their lives are secure.”

Source: PTI News


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