SPORT

Players refuse to relent

Principal Correspondent

BAI claims it has a long-term planPlayers remain wary of the association BAI claims it has a long-term planPlayers remain wary of the association

HYDERABAD: The Badminton Association of India is heading for a showdown. Even as the BAI chief B.K. Verma informed the media after a meeting with some of the senior players that it was mandatory for everyone (irrespective of his world ranking) to attend all national camps, it was clear that some of them were still in no mood to relent.

Verma informed the media (after a brainstorming session with some of the seniors including Chetan Anand, doubles champions Shruthi Kurien and Gutta Jwala) that the players were told in detail about the objectives of the on-going training camp and also the possible steps the BAI would be forced to take if they skip it.

"We do believe that the players left the meeting with a lot of understanding about the whole gamut of the camp and we hope they will be back in the camp," he explained.

But, sources close to these `select' players said immediately afterwards that they would not attend the camp, especially since the BAI chief refused to listen to them.

Sources close to the players say that the BAI will weed them out in any case on some pretext, such as on grounds of fitness. "What is the guarantee that they will be in the scheme of things even if they attend these camps," sources ask.

"The players had some clarifications about their participation in the Super Series events. We explained that they should focus on the hectic calendar which includes Sudirman Cup, the Thai Open, China Open, Phillipines Open, World Championship and the Indian Open. So, it is not that if they miss out on the two specific events they are going to miss out important points," Verma explained.

Expert panel

He also said that the decision not to send the Indian shuttlers for the two events was taken after an expert panel of BAI felt the need to focus on high levels of endurance. "We have a long-term Vision 2010 programme to see India in the top three of the medals bracket," he asserted.

The BAI president also said that the whole idea of the camp was to ensure a spirit of togetherness and no was one interested in harming any player's interests.

"Can you imagine even a big star like Sachin Tendulkar skipping the national camp and playing in a World Cup directly. Even the Government of India doesn't entertain such things," he remarked.

"In fact, Chief National coach Pullela Gopi Chand was magnanimous in accepting even the idea of these players bringing their personal coaches to the national camp," Verma said.

"We have made it clear to these seniors that it would not be acceptable to the BAI to let them skip the camp and compete in the two Super Series events in Indonesia and Malaysia even at their own cost," he said.

Verma refused to reveal much when asked whether action would be taken against players who did not turn up for the camp. "They (players) have to make sacrifices on their personal front if they are targeting any medals at the highest level. Tell me what is the point if the players in a doubles combination train in Bangalore and Hyderabad separately, or some seniors break away into groups in the national camps," he asked.

For his part, Gopi Chand expressed optimism that everything would fall in place. "Essentially we are trying to establish a new system which we were not used to till now. So, it is important to adhere to the guiding principles to ensure that the system turns out to be successful," he concluded.