Shooting star: Indian Badminton League
It was a treat for the Symbiosis Primary and Secondary School students when they got a chance to meet and talk to ace badminton player Jwala Gutta. She was in town at the Symbiosis Vishwabhavan to launch Indian Badminton League‘s School Programme Initiative – Shuttle Express on Wednesday. The CWG doubles gold medalist is an IBL Icon player. An initiative of the Badminton Association of India with Sporty Solutionz as commercial partner, Symbiosis Primary and Secondary School would be the IBL school partner. The city’s school championship was conducted with the support of Pune District Metropolitan Association. The winners will go to the National Finals of IBL in August.
Jwala is known to be forthright, be it the lack of support from the association to the state of sports especially badminton in India. “The interest in sports went up with the Commonwealth Games which were held here. Many saw us playing and winning medals. It is a different feeling to win here, on our home-ground.” She refused to compare the facilities provided to Indian players with the one abroad. “The issue is that sports are coming up here but not the sports culture. A lot of parents feel there is no security in sports. Also, our system is very different from other sporting countries. Now, schools and teachers have been taking interest in sports.”
Jwala stressed on the importance of a good foundation for a sporting future. “You have to work hard and enjoy doing what you do. All of this depends on the coach. At a young age, you are not aware of things like determination and dedication. You will realise these things only if it is taught by the coach.” Asked about the responsibilities of playing for the country, she admitted, “I am not just representing myself but India too. I have to behave myself. When you have the flag and country’s name on your shirt, it exudes responsibilities.” She was not seen much recently, as she was playing continuously for the last 15 years and needed a break. But she advised her doubles partner Ashwini Ponappa to go ahead with another doubles partner. She feels that doubles competition need a lot of attention, especially from the coaches and association.
Jwala is known to be outspoken when it comes to airing views of the things lacking in the badminton scenario. She admits that she speaks openly but only on necessary things. “It is a sad situation for us. We have no sponsors and so we have to be vocal about things. In India, if a woman is vocal about issues, then it is even worse. But I have been performing well and so I am talking about things. The only people who speak for the players are the media. Also, we have a habit to adjust with things. No one wants to make an identity. But I tell them how things should be and I never make up stories.” She seemed annoyed at the fact that players like her take the efforts to bring medals and recognition due to which the association gets funding. But the players are yet not supported.
She advised budding players (in any sport) that they should never forget their true calling. They can go for other opportunities like films and so on. She recently did a song for a Telugu film. “After the film’s success, I did get a lot of offers, but they take too much of time and I don’t want to do things which come in my game.”