‘Mentor’ Jwala aims to create icons bigger than Saina, Sindhu

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I Love Badminton. Reads a promotional creative of Jwala Gutta’s next venture – Global Academy for Badminton. Doubles icon in Indian badminton, Jwala will be living her dream through this commercial venture. The nation now has Gopis, Sainas, Sindhus and Jwalas. It is time to graduate to the next level. That will be vision as Jwala gets into serious business of badminton, which is also a mission to return what sport has given her. The approach from selection to training will be scientific and influence pan-India. Jwala, in and exclusive tete-e-tete, with InsideSport.co shared various aspects of her dream venture, future plans. Here are the excerpts.
InsideSport: Congratulations for Global Academy for Badminton. Tell us about your strategy and plans.
Jwala Gutta: We have been talking about great performance. We have been talking about raising standards of the game. But as I see, we only see great players coming from Hyderabad, Andhra and Telangana. But with the help of my Global Academy for Badminton, we will try to find more talent and provide better facilities.

Jwala GuttaQ: So, who are your business partners and how as a setup it will be different?
JG: The business side of the venture will be taken care by our partner Knock Out Wellness Labs LLP, a sister concern of Franchise India. They will be handling all the business, marketing, branding and PR of this venture. My sister will be the director and I will look into administration. And as I said, we will have state-of-the-art facilities and we will carry a talent-scouting program and we will also train our coaches, which makes us different from the other academies.

Q: Badminton as a sport is a very expensive affair. So, how do you think you will help children with it?
JG: Yeah, this is one of the biggest reasons behind the talent going unrecognized. And this is why; we are aiming to set up in 2-tier and 3-tier cities as well. We will try to analyse the performance and make it an easy sport for the deserving. I myself will be mentoring children and coaches. I will handle the entire administrative task and will also suggest panel of coach. And we will carry a talent-scouting program 365 days. We will try to acquire as much talent as we can. And then bring the deserving talent to our Centre of Excellence and will also sponsor them.

Q: Do you see yourself as an entrepreneur or as a coach or as a badminton lover, who is now giving it back to her sport?
JG: More than anything, I see myself as a mentor. I don’t think I will be able to coach. Coaching requires a lot of deeper understanding. Looking into technicalities and psychology of every child. So, the panel of coaches will do coaching. And I will be a mentor. I know where we lack, and I’ve been through all the hurdles. And my main aim is to reduce those hurdles.

Jwala GuttaQ: Will it also be a commercial venture for you in long-term?
JG: Look, we can’t really operate as a non-profit organization. This is a business setup. And we will try to follow good practices and business ethics. I know what this sport has given me, and we look forward to creating good human beings and a better society to co-exist.

Q: Does this academy aim to make more Jwalas and Gopis like you?
JG: Definitely, we will try to make better athletes than us. It’s not about Jwalas or Gopis or Sainas or Sindhus, we are aiming to make better players than us. There are a lot of scientific advancements taking place in the game and we want to equip our students with all the knowledge that is needed to make them better.

Q: Other than this, are you planning to make a comeback any sooner?
JG: I’ve played a lot since 1999. Gopi used to play with me at that time. Over these two decades, Gopi has been a mentor, a teammate and a coach to me. Now, he has retired and I think I’ve been the sole representative (from that generation). However, now I think I deserve this break. I can’t be playing badminton all my life, but I will try to stay in game with this academy and will never compromise with it.

Q: Traditionally academies work on in-house training and skill development. Any plans of giving players good competitive exposure?
JG: The academy will be based out of India. India is really big and we, for now, would like to tap national talent. But yeah, we are trying to have a foreign exchange program and include various nationalities. We will set up a Centre of Excellence in Hyderabad and will try to nurture the talent and then have a foreign exchange program, to make the talent grow.

Q: There are also talks of you starring in a movie. Are you planning on making it to the movie screens?
JG: These are all rumours. I have no plan to come on screen and even if I make any plans, I will announce it by myself. Till then, I don’t think these rumours should be considered.

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