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Team first spirit missing

Team first spirit missing
Highlights

Come Tuesday and all roads for shuttlers will lead to Birmingham where the 2017 edition of the premier All England Championship gets underway.

Come Tuesday and all roads for shuttlers will lead to Birmingham where the 2017 edition of the premier All England Championship gets underway. Dubbed as the Wimbledon for badminton, the event has been gaining in status with each passing year, which is evidenced by the determination of every player worth his/her salt to go for the ultimate title.

Like all contenders from across the globe, the Indian contingent is oozing with confidence, notwithstanding the fact that barring Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand no Indian has won the title. It makes one sad that for all the optimism that one takes pride in, India’s record in extravaganzas like All England, Olympics and World Championships has been deplorably abysmal.

Even today as the nation gears up to yet another edition of the mother of all badminton events, the expectations lie on the shoulders of a mere two individuals-Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. The men, in spite of winning the odd title here and there, are no pre-tournament favourites unless there is some extraordinary showing by someone of the calibre of Kidambi Srikanth, Ajay Jayaram and HS Prannoy, each of whom has got tough draws.

In a way, this has become a routine exercise. The media takes special pride in glorifying that Nehwal and the latest poster girl Sindhu have their best outside chances of getting crowned as the queen. Unfortunately, it has been a sorry tale in that Saina is either injury-prone or is so erratic that she has lost to players who are not half as talented as the Hyderabadi. For all her successes in the year gone by, Sindhu has done precious little since the epoch-making silver at Rio.

What is perplexing is that none is trying to touch the root-cause and finding out why there has been a systematic failure while youngsters from countries like Thailand are conquering the world with their prodigious exploits. One of the possible reasons why India has failed as a team is the absence of a no-nonsense functioning.

A Nehwal, fed up with the tutelage of Pullela Gopichand, has shifted base to Bangalore by coming under the wings of Vimal Kumar; a Jwala Gutta refuses to be mentored by Gopichand, who is the chief national coach and continues to train under the original Dronacharya SM Arif. There is discontentment all around but the Badminton Association of India (BAI) refuses to set the house in order.

How can a nation churn out world and Asian champions when the entire system is wrought with a fraudulent mechanism whereupon the word of the coach is symmetrically opposite to that originating from the players camp. This comes as a stark extreme to the ‘team first’ concept that is patronised diligently by not only China but also by European and Asian nations.

Unless a team spirit of the highest order gets inculcated in the players, we all would be seeing individual champions. The nationalistic pride ‘we were moved when the anthem was played’ comes as an after-thought. It is time the policy-makers instill a ‘nation first’ agenda for the players even in individual events.

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