Aspiring badminton players in India could soon have another facility to train at in the coming years as Olympic bronze-medallist Saina Nehwal’s plan to open her academy took its first steps.
Saina Nehwal received a green light from the Himachal Pradesh state sports department as it allocated a piece of land, spread across six and a half acres, in the city of Dharamshala to set up a badminton academy.
The London 2012 bronze-medallist had appealed to Himachal Pradesh governor Bandaru Dattatreya last month, stating that an academy in North India could provide high-quality training for players hailing from that region.
At present, India’s two most prominent badminton academies are the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad and Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bengaluru.
Both those academies are in the southern part of the country and not ideal for youngsters living in the north.
One other reason why Nehwal and Kashyap were keen to open up a badminton academy in Dharamshala is due to its altitude.
Dharamsala, a hillside city, sits at 1,457 metres above sea level, one of the highest in India.
The husband-wife duo felt that the location was ideal to provide high-altitude training to shuttlers, who often travel to other countries to practice in cold weather and high altitudes, conditions which are largely alien to India.
If the plans for Saina Nehwal’s academy materialise soon enough, India could have yet another badminton training facility run by a shuttler.
Indian badminton national team coach Pullela Gopichand runs the most successful academy while the legendary Prakash Padukone was a pioneer in the field, becoming one of the first former players to set up his own academy.
Former Olympian Jwala Gutta followed in their footsteps as she opened up her badminton academy, the Jwala Gutta Academy of Excellence, in Hyderabad last month.