#TFGInterview - Badminton Gurukul Founder & Managing Director Supriya Devgun on growing the sport and touching lives
THE BADMINTON GURUKUL INITIATIVE, spearheaded by Indian badminton legend Pullela Gopichand, has taken the sport by storm, and according to founder & managing director Supriya Devgun it's just the early phase of their growth.
In a short amount of time, the coaching and talent development organisation has opened 40 centres across 22 Indian cities. They have also recently opened a branch in Doha, Qatar, which received a lot of attention and participation from badminton enthusiasts.
Now, with the groundwork laid out for growing the organisation as well as the sport in the country, the former BWF World Senior Badminton Championship bronze medalist is confident of taking the next phase in her stride,
"We are not just producing champions, we are championing sports. We are saying sport is very important to your regular life skills and each person should play sports for the right reasons... physical literacy is equally important and this is the mission statement with which we started Badminton Gurukul."
Speaking exclusively to TFG, Ms Devgun laid out how Badminton Gurukul works with athletes at both ends of the sport; future players as well as former players,
"Gopichand is the face of Indian badminton I'd say... after producing champions he's basically put Indian badminton on the map. We wanted his learnings to reach and impact the rest of the country... institutionalise this sport and create an ecosystem which could really create second-wind careers for a lot of people who played at the international level and could come and join us on an expert panel etc on our knowledge sharing platform."
Asked how they are working on capturing talent at their youngest, she pointed to the Badminton Gurukul centres along with a network of partner institutions and tournaments,
"When you say grassroots, you can be at schools or local clubs. That's where you create a hunger for the sport and that's where your events come into play... if you give them the right kind of coaching, the interest in the sport becomes higher... we are at places like the Willingdon Sports Club in Mumbai, we have our own setup at the Sachivalay Gymkhana... these are a few to mention in Mumbai and we are at various other parts of the country."
Part of the job, she said, was using badminton's organic popularity in small cities as well as the interior parts and channel them towards talent development,
"We're not just hitting the metros. The beauty is in going to the second tier and remote places which don't have the access. Making excellence available in those parts, the satisfaction we are getting from that is fifty-fold more than we are getting in a place like Mumbai or Delhi."
When asked about growth, she set out an ambitious target,
"Within the next 5 years if we are able to reach 150 centres and we are able to touch enough lives... like I said, success lies in the number of lives we touch."
With the growth and contribution to the sport they have achieved in the last few years, it doesn't sound like an unrealistic goal to go after.
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