Assam Academy Looks Beyond Northeast to ap Talent

SAURAV BORA

Shuttlers practise at the Assam Badminton Academy. Picture by Eastern Projections

Guwahati, Dec 16 : Less than two months after opening its doors to 24 budding shuttlers of the state, the Assam Badminton Academy is looking beyond the Northeast to groom players from across the country.

“With the academy leaving no stone unturned to provide quality training, states like Bihar and Jharkhand, among others, have evinced interest in sending their players for training at the facility. Besides, neighbouring states like Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, too, are keen to get talented shuttlers admitted to the academy. We are contemplating inclusion of some more trainees from the next session,” Omar Rashid, secretary of Assam Badminton Association, said.

“The academy has roped in the services of Indonesian coach Faizal Rahman, who arrived here in July, and Mushtaq Neqib Ali, a trainer from the Patiala-based National Institute of Sports (NIS). Moreover, another NIS coach will join the academy by January,” he said.

According to Rashid, apart from state-of-the-art facilities, foreign assistance, coupled with the services of NIS coaches, has caught the attention of the associations.

Currently, the academy is preparing 24 top-ranked shuttlers in the under-13, under-16 and under-19 age groups.

“We have selected them on the basis of their performance in five ranking tournaments,” Rashid said. Asked about the cost borne for such a project, he said the association is on the lookout for corporate sponsors to run the facility, apart from seeking funds from Dispur. “The association is incurring an expense of Rs 1.25 lakh per month on the coaches while investing Rs 20,000 on a trainee every month,” he added.

“We are charging a monthly fee of Rs 5,000 per trainee, which I feel is reasonable considering the facilities — four courts, equipment, food, lodging, medical, et al — and the overall cost involved in the project,” Rashid said.

The academy, set up by the association at the Kanaklata Indoor Stadium (RG Baruah Sports Complex) at a cost of Rs 1 crore, opened on October 31.

Two-time national champion and Olympian Dipankar Bhattacharyya, talking to The Telegraph, said, “I am glad the Assam Badminton Association has come up with such a project. The academy should help produce better shuttlers from the region and help them excel at national and world meets.”

Former state coach Pradip Chaliha feels the academy has taken a step in the right direction and augurs well for sports in this neck of the woods.

“The standard of badminton at sub-junior and junior levels has taken a dip of late. Our performance in the junior nationals at Pondicherry wasn’t up to the mark. While the academy should help budding talents hone their skills, the results would be known only after a year or two,” Chaliha said.

“However, I feel the young brigade needs to be encouraged and for that the training has to be made affordable. While I understand the cost involved, the top-ranked players, as far as I am concerned, should be trained free of cost,” he added.

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