Hyderabad:It has been a week since Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa returned from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games with a doubles silver medal, and all we have been hearing since then is Jwala’s scathing criticism of national coach Pullela Gopichand and to a lesser degree, the Badminton Association of India.
However, those expecting a reaction from the BAI like in 2013, when it had threatened to ban the outspoken shuttler for life, are going to be disappointed. “We have no intentions of taking any player to task; BAI believes such actions would harm the game,” says K. Ch. Punnaiah Choudhary, BAI secretary (events).
This, however, doesn’t mean that the establishment is too happy with Jwala. “BAI had issued a code of conduct, under which the players were told to not approach the media on their own,” Punnaiah says.
“Every player but Jwala follows that code. If she has a problem, she should take it up with BAI and if the Association fails to take action, then she has the full right to speak to the media. “I don’t think she’s got a problem with BAI, however,” adds Punnaiah. “Whatever problems she might have, such as with Gopichand, seem to be at a personal level and BAI wouldn’t intervene in such cases.”
One of Jwala’s complaints is about the alleged “monopoly” established by Gopi, where she claims only players from his academy are given favourable treatment. Punnaiah, however, believes that it isn’t too big a problem. “BAI never forces any player to train under a coach against his or her will. Players are free to choose their coaches.” “Jwala chose to train under S.M. Arif and she has done extremely well on the world stage. She was never forced to train with Gopichand or anybody.
“By the end of the day, the player’s welfare is paramount and BAI lets them do what they can in order to achieve the most success.” When contacted, Gopichand didn’t want to comment on Jwala.