In terms of face value, the utterances of fiery shuttler Jwala Gutta may not mean much to the people in badminton circles.
In terms of face value, the utterances of fiery shuttler Jwala Gutta may not mean much to the people in badminton circles. Jwala, an acclaimed doubles specialist who has won many a laurel for the country during an enviously eventful career, is not popular among the policy makers because Indian administrators cannot stand anyone who dares speak against them or points out the wrong-doings and partisan approaches.
Irrespective of the individual standing of Jwala, what is of utmost importance is that she has often spoken sensibly, though with a brash ‘I give-a-damn’ daredevilry that not many can digest. Her potshots against the Badminton Association of India (BAI) are not unfounded.
BAI has always been soft on those emerging from the stables of the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy (PGBA). This is where Jwala is paying a heavy price, despite the regularity with which she and her doubles partner Ashwini Ponnappa (who walked out of PGBA much earlier) have performed in prestigious international events.
The latest attack against the BAI, and the Centre, is not without reason. The dubious mechanisms of BAI are such that it goes out of the way to promote singles players but pays scant respect to doubles specialists, howsoever, potent the combination. Jwala and Ashwini have earlier also pleaded for an exclusive doubles coach, but to no avail.
The latest triumph at Calgary where they won the Canadian Open doubles title only reinforces their prowess and comes as a welcome booster for the World Championships and Rio Olympics. The shabby treatment meted out to the combination gets exposed at the grotesque manner the beneficiaries were named under the ambitiously carved Union Sports Ministry initiative ‘Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme that funds prospective medal winners.
It is a welcome move but one fails to understand why the duo was left out if the quest is sincerely aimed at promoting medal hopefuls. Jwala and Ashwini, along with Saina Nehwal, form the best bets in this category. Another faux pas that has gone unnoticed but does call for a review is the recent decision to earmark Rs 9 lakh towards salaries for Saina’s personal physiotherapist till Rio. One wonders why Saina needs a separate physio when she can train with the team.
Moreover, as Jwala has often pointed out, Saina earns mega bucks by way of prize-money and endorsements. She can afford to have her own support staff like she did when she moved over to Bangalore and hired Vimal Kumar as her regular coach. The Sports Ministry should intervene and bail out proven quality players like Jwala and Ashwini, who have no sponsors or godfathers to back them.
But they enjoy the moral support of an incredible institution called S M Arif whose integrity and credibility are most revered. Moreover, when tennis doubles players can be treated like royalty, why ignore badminton players, remains the million dollar question.