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Indian coaches need more freedom to groom doubles pairs, says Gopichand

Posted on May 24 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, May 24 : Not having a formidable second doubles pair after Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa essentially cost India a place in the Uber Cup final and chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand admits that a "lot of work needs to done" in the area.

Though India performed beyond expectations to reach the semi-finals of the World Women's Team Championship to secure their historic and maiden bronze medal, they lost the last four clash to Japan 2-3 despite being 2-0 up.

"There is a lot of work which needs to be done on the doubles front. We can only develop players once they come to a certain level. In India, we don't have the same amount of freedom the foreign coaches have," said Gopichand.

The former All-England champion said Indian coaches don't have the same kind of authority foreign coaches have which is essential for grooming doubles shuttlers.

"We can produce singles players individually but in doubles you need a lot of grooming and for that you need a lot of freedom as a coach. In terms of forming combinations, taking one or moving the other player among other things which is not there. Also, till the age of 19 there is no specialisation," said the Padma Bhushan awardee.

"We need tougher laws so if someone is selected for doubles he/she can only play doubles and if you are selected for singles, you will only play singles. But that kind of authority is not there. We are too democratic in a way."

The lack of a challenging second doubles pair led the team management to do away with the regular combine of Pradnya Gadre and N. Siki Reddy to put Saina and Sindhu in a scratch combination, which failed to make an impact.

But Gopichand having been a successful singles player, would it be fair to say that his energies as a coach are largely concentrated towards singles?

"We have two Indonesian doubles coaches. We have two coaches in Madhumita Bisht and Vijay Deep Singh. It wouldn't be fair to say that I distinguish between singles and doubles but yes I would love to have a lot more time for each of them," concluded the Dronacharya awardee.

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