Pullela Gopi Chand won the All England Open Badminton Championship in 2001, but he did not perform well due to injury later. Nowadays he runs Gopi Chand Badminton Academy. Here are excerpts from one of his speeches-
Importance of sports
Today, many experienced people from many fields are present in this program. Before me many people shared their thoughts and experiences on important issues. Frankly, I have nothing special to say to you. Nor have I made any preparations to speak here. But I have some things about sports, which I want to share with you. Our country is great. We are citizens of a country with a population of about one and a quarter billion. There are many big problems here, which are constantly discussed and debated. Poverty and unemployment are major problems. There is a need to work on these seriously. Amidst these problems, if you talk about promoting the sports sector or giving facilities to the players, then it is said that people are not getting enough food here and you are talking about building a huge sports stadium. The People do not have jobs and you want players to be given excellent training? Perhaps, that is why our leaders never discuss issues related to sports in Parliament. As if the game does not matter to them. By the way, I have no objection to the fact that when the basic needs of the people are not being met, then what will you discuss about the game.
I agree that the burning problems of the country should be solved. Livelihood is a big problem. These problems should also be discussed and solutions should be found. But, I want to say one thing that when a player of our country becomes world champion or India team wins in a sports competition, then our countrymen get immense pleasure. Do you know their happiness? At that time, he forgets all the problems and celebrates his team’s victory. On every such victory, the smile scattered on the face of the countrymen is priceless. Where do we remember what the GDP of our country is during that victory? Actually, I want to say to you that there is no value in the happiness of victory. People should get a chance to celebrate the victory of the players of the country, be proud of it and celebrate it. You cannot weigh the happiness of countrymen with money. Therefore, sports should be encouraged, I believe.
I never forget about my childhood when I was a student of class eight. I was a child at that time. I had a dream. I wanted to become a National Champion. I had a keen interest in badminton. At that time I used to have a teacher who was very impressed with my sports talent. He had a deep affection for me and was very sympathetic to me. One day he told me that Gopi, why do you want to become the national champion. The national champion is only one in the country and not necessarily the one. Why waste time unnecessarily? Why not try in engineering or any other field? I know that he said this because he cared about me. There was a fear in his mind that my future might not be wasted in the game. But I had made up my mind. I had to play badminton. I knew there would be many problems in this path, but I wanted to give it a try. I believe that every human being must try. If you have not been successful, you will be satisfied that you made an effort to fulfill your dream. I believe that regardless of others, we should know what we want. Your mind must be heard.
I think the problem before the youth of our country is that they do not have good role models. For the development of any society, it is necessary to have true and inspiring role models in front of them, such heroes who can show the right path to the younger generation. When I talk of role models, I mean a hero who is honest in real life. Role models do not mean people who have achieved only physical success, or have earned a lot of money. I believe that success is not just about making progress or earning a lot of money. Success means protecting values. We need role models who have done some big work for the society without compromising their values. This is a serious matter, we have to think on it.