The Badminton World Federation has announced the schedule of its major events starting August. But training will be a different game amid social distancing and precautions against COVID-19 as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc in India.
Chief national badminton coach P. Gopichand assured that safety measures will be implemented as the players’ health is of utmost importance.
“There is no way we are going to be complacent. We will follow the guidelines in letter and spirit for we are conscious of the huge responsibility on us,” he said.
“Obviously, no one wants to be in a spot for any untoward development in this regard,” he added.
But the fear factor seems to haunt quite a few parents. For instance, P.V. Ramana, Arjuna Awardee and former international volleyballer, who took it up as a challenge to put his daughter P.V. Sindhu into badminton and not in volleyball, believes that lot of issues are involved in implementing the guidelines.
“First, I feel it is better to have separate training sessions only for Olympic hopefuls and not for all the Indian campers together as has been the case so far,” he said.
“That way, lot of management issues can be easily sorted out to the convenience of one and all. Definitely, I am terribly worried about the health issue of any player. It is not just about Sindhu alone. After all, most of them are sacrificing so much for country’s pride,” he added.
Ramana also feels the physio needs to get sanitised. “Every time he attends to a different player, and of course mask and gloves are compulsory. A physical trainer has to maintain a distance to guide the players. And the coaches too cannot move too closely and have to make their points from a distance,” he said, adding, “More importantly, many minor issues like the benches where the players rest between training should be sanitised frequently,” he explained.
“And, again, serious doubts do arise as to how long it will take for a player to peak in this changed training schedule,” Ramana said.
Even the one-on-three sessions where a singles players takes on three opponents during training are doubtful now given the social distancing that has to be maintained.
N. Sikki Reddy (right) with her doubles partner, Ashwini Ponnappa. – FILE PHOTO/ V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM
Krishna Reddy, father of doubles international N. Sikki Reddy, feels doubles training needs a serious thought; to avoid over-crowding at the training venues.
“Definitely, the guidelines may look comforting but they would definitely mean the players have to adapt to a different kind of training schedule which may take a long time for them to adjust,” he concluded.