South India: Determination and Love for Badminton.

Written By Writabrata

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Badminton has seen a steady rise from the 2000s and a meteoric one in the last decade. Yet, as far as the sport is concerned, one feature that has remained consistent is the sheer dominance of players from South India, particularly Hyderabad and Bengaluru.  The person who is considered as the pioneer of India’s success in Badminton at the international arena is none other than the veteran stalwart Prakash Padukone, who hails from the city of Bengaluru. His footsteps were followed by Pullela Gopichand who carried India’s string of achievements to new heights. However, Gopichand’s most vital contribution to the sport, surprisingly, is not as an accomplished athlete but as a revolutionary coach, who, with his training techniques, an eye for talents, an extremely effective scouting approach and most importantly, his seamless dedication has made Hyderabad, his native city, the heart of Badminton in India. However, this should not eclipse the role of Padukone either, as Gopichand was once a student of Padukone himself, while he was moulding himself into having a memorable career in Badminton at the Padukone Academy in Bengaluru. Since then, the subsequent decades have seen South India become an ideal place for the birth of talented youngsters of the sport who would go on to dominate the Badminton scene all over the world. This has naturally given rise to a very compelling question: Is South India a better place to learn Badminton? While there is no black or white conclusion to this, surfing through the grey matters of this issue can certainly help the reader come closer to a possible answer.

It can somewhat be clearly declared that the platform laid by the early successes of Padukone and Gopichand, has helped create a “Badminton culture” in South India, with Hyderabad and Bengaluru at the forefront and Chennai, the largest city among the Southern states, certainly not lagging behind in this regard. A particularly notable reason for this is off course the presence of Badminton Academies in these cities which have consistently ranked as the best in the country for decades. Then again, without the appreciable encouragement from the former athletes themselves, these academies certainly would not have prospered to the extent that they have till date. Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy leads the pack with the ideal infrastructure. But it has the unrivalled advantage of having the best guide, an aspiring Badminton player can hope to learn from. Besides, the Chetan Anand Academy, the Bhaskar Babu Li Ning Academy and the Global Academy for Badminton owned by Jwala Gutta offer appealing choices, all of them located in Hyderabad. Syed Mohammed Arif, the veteran coach have made sure Hyderabad remains the top Badminton city of India. But Bengaluru also offers world-class training facilities through the Padukone Badminton Academy and the Karnataka Badminton Association. While Chennai does not bolster such enviable options, more than 50 Venues and Academies have sprung up throughout the city, thus compelling the citizens to consider the sport as a serious career.

A look at the origins and track records of the most successful Badminton players from the country makes it very obvious why South India springs up when one talks about the sport in the country. Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy, N Sikki Reddy, Ashwini Ponnappa, Pranaav Jerry Chopra, Sourabh Verma, Sameer Verma, RMV Gurusaidutt all have been nurtured from the Gopichand Academy, while Ashwini Ponnappa and Anup Sridhar are proud representatives of Bengaluru.

Lastly, pleasant weather and the absence of distractions from North India-based sports like Hockey and Kabaddi has helped South India emerge as the Badminton hub of the country.