All that went into the making of Gopichand Academy

Pullela Gopichand

Pullela Gopichand  

Days after the then Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu allotted five acres of land at Gachibowli to Pullela Gopichand to set up a world class badminton academy, the national coach was clearly struggling to raise funds to put in place his dream project.

That was the phase when many in the corporate world were looking the other way when Gopi was searching for sponsorship. Fortunately, for him, entrepreneur Nimmagadda Prasad, when approached by the champion coach, donated Rs. 5 crore in three instalments.

And when the whole world is acclaiming Gopichand’s achievement as a successful coach nurturing the talent at his Academy, Prasad has every reason to look back with immense sense of satisfaction.

What made him give that donation? “I met him for the first time after he won the All England Championship. I had a feeling that he meant serious business in training the young talent and I had lot of trust in his sincerity, commitment and genuine passion for coaching,” recalls Prasad. “Honestly, when I took the final call to help him, I did not expect any returns or branding. All I looked for was that he should produce Olympic medallists,” he says. “Definitely, I am glad that he has lived up to the expectations and is doing a great service to the sport itself,” says the former owner of Matrix Labs. “I repeat that the only condition I set for giving the financial help is that he should produce champions and there were no selfish motives,” he added.

“Yes, I remember in 1972 when as a school student I was a participant in a debate on India’s progress in its silver jubilee year of independence. Everyone was making emotional speeches. Then, I asked one simple question – what is our contribution to it. That left quite a few dazed faces,” recalls Prasad, insisting that this was the guiding principle for his funding the Gopi Academy.

“Any athlete needs world class facilities and good coaches. We have talent, but many lack these two basic ingredients,” Prasad argues.

“Tax planning is welcome but not tax evasion. And, instead of spending crores of rupees on lavish weddings, many can actually at least spend one per cent of such extravaganza in promoting sports in their own way,” pointed out Prasad.

“Definitely, I feel it’s time the corporate groups look to other sport as we did to kabaddi through Maa TV. Now I am into promoting football in a big way,” he said about his plans.

And Prasad signs off with a sense of pride of “contributing his bit” in the success story of Gopichand as a coach who produced two Olympic medallists (Saina Nehwal in 2012 and P.V. Sindhu now) in the span of eight years.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2020 7:04:41 PM |

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