Gangtok: Badminton legend Pullela Gopichand is currently on his first visit to Sikkim to compete in the second Governors Cup for badminton in Gangtok. Gopichand arrived in the state on Monday and was invited to dinner at Samman Bhawan by Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay.
On June 14, Gopichand participated in the final of the state tournament, playing an exhibition match along with Sikkim Governor Ganga Prasad and CM Golay. In a heartwarming moment, 85-year-old veteran shuttler Yapchung Kazi also joined Gopichand during the exhibition match.
Speaking to the media, Gopichand said he thinks Sikkim is very beautiful. He shared: “It feels very good to be in Sikkim, it’s a beautiful place, the hospitality and warmth of the people is wonderful. Coming here for an event like the Governor’s Cup of Badminton is something amazing. It’s wonderful that so many players from different blocks and from different professions are participating in this event. I am pleased with this government response to sport. It is very encouraging to see the Governor, Prime Minister and Speaker attend a sporting event and be part of the celebration of a sport.”
Speaking on the growth potential of badminton in Sikkim, Gopichand shared: “Just yesterday (Monday) the Secretary General of the Badminton Association of Sikkim, Sukanta Das, and I spoke with the Prime Minister about how to show talented players from Sikkim the right paths at the academy (Gopichand’s) and various centers of Badminton Association of India.”
He further shared: “The President and Secretary General of the Badminton Association of Sikkim have done a wonderful job. They have always been active members of the Badminton Association of India. You have always tried to promote the sport. Infrastructure is something we need for sport. I would like to ask the government to look at the infrastructure provision aspect. So that the country’s talented boys and girls can perform more and more effectively at the state and federal level. Someday play for the country and bring laurels to the country.”
Focusing on the North East, Gopichand shared: “Since the BAI President is currently the Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswas Sarma, they are working to strengthen the association and do a lot of work at the grassroots level. Our President is a dynamic leader, with his support we believe players will see great growth in the coming future, both in the North East and the rest of the country.”
Commenting on the progress the country has made in sport, Gopichand shared: “There are many talented players coming to the country, from those who have represented the men’s team in various championships and brought many laurels to the country. They are talented and young. There are many expectations of them. There are also many expectations when it comes to doubles. We expect them to bring laurels to the country in the future.”
Sikkim CM Prem Singh Golay welcomed Gopichand to Sikkim and claimed it was an honor to have the badminton legend. “We are aware of the success of badminton legend Pullela Gopichand who has produced many national and international badminton players in the country including himself who is a legend of the sport. I would like to take this opportunity to share that during our dinner conversation yesterday, Pullela Gopichand and the Badminton Association of Sikkim hinted at the potential of badminton in Sikkim. In view of this, we welcome the move to send 10-15 talented badminton players to his academy or any of the Badminton Association of India centers for their training. The identification of such players is in the hands of the Badminton Association of Sikkim, once they agree, we will send such players to such prestigious academies and ensure that they balance both their studies and their sport at the same time.”
Golay also said that in the upcoming budget session, the government will consider developing a state-of-the-art badminton court and training center here in Sikkim to help the state attract more players.
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