Exclusive: You can’t grow a sport till you don’t invest in building it along with its players – Supriya Devgun, Founder & Managing Director, Badminton Gurukul

Mrs Supriya Devgun spoke at length about Badminton Gurukul's inception, working in Qatar and the corporate backing received by the organization.

To enhance one of the prestigious Olympics sports, “Badminton”, by availing excellence to the most grassroots level possible, Badminton Gurukul has been doing the hard yards since its inception in the past decade.

An initiative backed by the Padma Bhushan Pullela Gopichand aims to curate positive playing experiences via quality coaching, propagated in systematic methodology. Alongside utilising the collective knowledge of succeeders while encouraging happiness with sports and sporting events as a medium.

SportsMint Media got the opportunity of interviewing Mrs Supriya Devgun, the Founder & Managing Director of Badminton Gurukul. The Bronze Medalist, BWF World Senior Badminton Championship 2017 spoke at length about Badminton Gurukul’s inception, working in Qatar, corporate backing received by the organization and much more.

Pullela Gopichand and Supriya Devgun

1. What led to the inception of the Badminton Gurukul?

I’ve been a player and also been an administrator. As an administrator, I’ve worked closely with the Badminton Association of India and the Badminton World Federation to grow this sport. As an avid follower of the sport, there has always been a drive to give back and enhance badminton. I have also worked with Mr Pullela Gopichand, wherein we did a lot of international events. You can’t grow a sport till you don’t invest in building it along with its players. While Mr Gopichand was building the players, we were trying to develop the sport by organizing events on a larger scale and getting corporate funding. The Thomas Cup, Uber Cup 2014, Premier Badminton League, and Yonex Sunrise Legends’ Vision World Tour were among the large events conducted to grow the sport. 

Mr Gopichand is the face of badminton in India and I wanted his learnings to reach the rest of the country, hence, we came up with the concept of Badminton Gurukul where he could reach the grassroots level and make excellence accessible. 

2. Since its inception, how Badminton Gurukul has managed in grabbing eyeballs from the sports industry as a whole?

I don’t think there has been a model that has been able to institutionalize the sport from A to Z that we are trying to do. We are a complete sports solution right now from the grassroots, where kids perform, we create a pathway, train coaches, create an entire coaching system based on curriculums, and we have lots of connections so there are a lot of people that are responsible for contributing. The infra partner who has been kind enough to partner with us also plays an active role. There are people who have created infra so that we can get evolved with them to provide the right coaching to the students. It’s been a very organic journey and we also have the media who are the voice.

3. Could you please provide us with details about working in Qatar?

We’ve been on the ground since 2015; currently, we have a spread of about 40-45 centres across 24-25 cities in India. Having the model run successfully in India and seeing students benefit from this model, we had an opportunity to go global. Qatar happened to be the starting point where we saw a lot of hunger for the sport at the grassroots level.

I wanted to take the learning to that path, and we found an appropriate on-ground partner. We decided to not only just invest in an academy partnership, but we also thought of giving it back and growing the sport in Qatar because there was potential to do that; the 2030 Asian Games are going to be held there; keeping that in mind, even we can help them in building a national team by then.

4. Could you please shed some light on Badminton Gurukul’s financial muscle and backing received from corporates?

Besides me, Badminton Gurukul has been backed by selfless support from Mr Pullela Gopichand, Founder & Mentor of Badminton Gurukul, Mr Ravi Kumar Swaminathan, Vice Chairman of TVS Industrial & Logistics Park and Founder & Chairman Badminton Gurukul, and Mr Sonjoy Chatterjee, Chairman Goldman Sachs India, who is on the advisory board. Badminton Gurukul has been internally funded to a large extent.

We also have Tata Group as our Key Partner and TVS Industrial and Logistics Park as our Associate Partner.

We have also been receiving corporate funding for our events; when we carry out such initiatives, we tend to reach out to multiple sponsors.

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