While Hyderabad boasts of more than a hundred small academies, one that meets international standards is rare.
With its world-class facilities and roster of prominent names, including World Champion P.V. Sindhu, the Suchitra Badminton Academy provides players with that winning edge.
After becoming the first Indian shuttler to win gold at the BWF World Championships, the world has been raving not only about P.V. Sindhu’s performance but also the intense training sessions she goes through at different facilities.
While Hyderabad boasts of more than a hundred small academies, one that meets international standards is rare. But Suchitra Badminton Academy — where Sindhu trained with experts for 45 days just before claiming the gold, is one such facility that boasts of both superlative infrastructure and performance results.
The brainchild of siblings Praveen and Pradeep Raju, the academy is driven by scientific, sports-centric features with expertise gained from visits to badminton and tennis facilities the world over.
Elaborating on how the academy was first started, Pradeep Raju — Director of the Badminton Academy and a contemporary of Pullela Gopichand, says, “It was during the end of 2016 while we were discussing the state of sporting affairs in the city that the idea of opening an academy came into being. From the day of ideation, it took us six months to get everything in place — from coaches to modern facilities to train,” adding, “Both of us brothers come from sports backgrounds and our daughters are also into sports, so we wanted to do something to inculcate the spirit of sports into more people and to help youngsters interested in badminton to train at a world class facility.”
According to Praveen Raju, an alumni of Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering and was India #7 in the Under 21 snooker championships apart from representing Osmania University in badminton, the aim of the academy was to enable players to seamlessly move from sports to studies under one roof.
“Balancing studies and sports gets difficult for youngsters who are pursuing sports due to the travel involved from one place to another. So our main focus was to combine everything into one facility,” says Praveen.
However, the journey of the brothers has not always been easy; they too have had their share of challenges. “As we have a full functioning school with modern amenities in place, it acts as a buffer for the players to use apart from the residential facility. If that was not the case, it would have been very difficult to pool in the money to build the academy,” shares Praveen.
Apart from Sindhu who comes almost regularly for strength training at Suchitra Academy, as many as 150 students from all over the country and even abroad are training there at present, including some top players in the Under-16 and Under-19 categories.
Talking about what lies ahead for the duo and how the sports scenario in India can be improved, Praveen says, “We want to make the facility available to more students and while the government is doing good for sports, it would be even better if they fixed a percentage to be given for sports through CSR activities. That way, sports will continue to get funded and more such world class facilities can be made all over India.”
He adds, “We have lots of talented young sportspersons but due to the lack of proper training facilities, not all are at par with the likes of P.V. Sindhu. Youngsters need to start training early to get accustomed to winning at world tournaments with confidence.