Mumbai, September 16, 2020: Celebrated National Badminton Coach Pullela Gopichand has proposed a novel idea of creating bio-secure bubbles and organising multiple mini leagues among top athletes to kickstart sport in the country.
Speaking during a webinar on Wednesday titled ‘Sports, Fitness, Lockdown – What is the way forward?’, supported by IDBI Federal Life Insurance, Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and FIT India, Gopichand said, “It may not be possible to organise massive national or state level tournaments like we used to pre-Covid, due to social distancing norms. But we can surely look at a number of leagues in each sport among top players, as per their levels.”
AFI President Adille Sumariwalla wholeheartedly backed the proposal, revealing that his federation had been working on precisely those lines to keep his athletes in fine fettle and top form with an eye on the Olympics next year.
“Our elite athletes have been in camps since June and will go into deep training from October. We have just chalked out our detailed programme calendar and we are hoping to see serious competition from January onwards,” Sumariwalla said. “We are confident of a much better show due to the delay in the start of the Olympics as our young athletes will be more mature and better prepared,” he added.
IDBI Federal’s MD & CEO and former Mumbai Ranji cricketer Vighnesh Shahane agreed that the pandemic has come as a blessing in disguise for India. “Sport is the most pristine form of entertainment. And due to the lockdown, most Indians have taken up some form of sport or fitness activity and are today much fitter than they were six months ago.”
He stressed the need for commencement of sport at all levels, after the mandatory precautions, as it was the “world’s greatest unifier and uplifter of national sentiment.”
The live webinar, also attended by NEB Sports CMD Nagaraj Adiga, Arjuna Awardees Reeth Abraham and Nisha Millet, top national steeplechaser Sudha Singh and IDBI Federal Life Insurance’s CMO Karthik Raman, saw as many as 10,000 participants tuning in.
Sumariwalla and Gopichand also underlined the need for categorising India’s top athletes as COVID warriors so that they would get first access to a vaccine against the virus, as and when it was approved.