By Abhishek Roy
New Delhi : While he doesn't want to be caught in the crossfire between shuttlers and the badminton authority, national coach Pullela Gopichand believes the players must attend national camps.
"National camps are very important, specially given the fact that we haven't produced good players on a consistent basis. If we want to have some good players then they should attend the camps regularly," Gopichand told IANS in a telephone interview.
His statement comes at a time when top players have decided to skip the ongoing national camp as well as the selection trial for the Sudirman Cup in Scotland to protest the Badminton Association of India's (BAI) "highhandedness".
The BAI has barred players from participating in any international tournaments as the national camp is on in Hyderabad. But players say staying away from these games will affect their rankings and their chances of qualifying for the Olympics next year.
Asked about the controversy, Gopichand said: "I don't want to be dragged into this issue. If the players decide to skip the camps and trials it is their personal decision and I can't comment on it. It is the BAI that has to look into the matter.
"The only thing that I want to say is that the BAI decision will hamper their rankings temporarily but the players shouldn't worry too much as they still have a very good season ahead."
Some of the top players of the country, including national champion Chetan Anand and his wife Jwala Gutta, have decided to skip the national camp and the two-day selection trial in Hyderabad that started Sunday for the Sudirman Cup from July 11-17.
The shuttlers are also annoyed by the fact that the national body didn't send their entries for the Singapore Open and the Indonesian Open, which were slated for this month, when the players were ready to bear their own expenses.
The BAI hurriedly announced Thursday that all the players should attend the two-day trial at the Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad for the Sudirman Cup. The announcement at such short notice has also irked the top players.
But Gopichand urged the players to think positively.
"We have played consistently for the past one year and this year we still have 30-35 tournaments lined up in the season. The players will have a lot of chances to qualify for the Olympics.
"Every year we have two-three players representing the country in the Olympics and this year we will have the same as well," said Gopichand.
Gopichand, a former All England champion, said he benefited from the national camps when he was an emerging player. He decided to make it a regular affair after he took over as the national coach in June last year.
"When I took over as the coach last year in June, I decided to make the national camp a regular feature. Prior to that it wasn't. In national camps, a player gets to know where he stands and analyse his form," he pointed out.
Gopichand also added that in the European circuit earlier this year, barring Anup Sridhar none of the players performed well and they should have attended the national camp.
"There are at times when you have to sit down and work hard and strengthen your skills, and the national camps are held to address all these issues. It would have been better for the players if they had attended the camp," he said.