CHENNAI: In racquet sports, residential academies have played a vital role in the development of youngsters. The now-defunct Britania-Amritraj Foundation in Chennai produced the likes of Leander Paes and Somdev Devvarman. Stalwarts like Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand have taken India badminton to the next level from their academies.
Keeping in tune with the rising popularity of the game in the country, Hatsun Badminton Centre in Tiruthangal, near Sivakasi in Virudhunagar district, promises to join this list. The residential academy has many facilities and its tie-up with a school nearby makes it an ideal place for youngsters who wish to choose badminton as career.
The academy is a brainchild of RG Chandramogan, chairman and managing director of Hatsun Agro Products Ltd, and chief mentor Ajith Haridas. “The academy is a vision of RG Chandramogan to create a world-class centre that can become a platform for aspiring and talented youngsters from the country to reach the highest level in badminton,” said Ajith.
The academy started in 2017 and is growing from strength to strength. “We started with 36 trainees, 18 of them staying in the residential facility. Now we have 64 players, 31 residential and 33 non-residential. The players are in the age group of 7 to 20,” informed Ajith.
The academy has eight courts made to meet international standards, with seating arrangements for spectators. There is provision to expand it to 16 courts. It has a fully equipped and air-conditioned gymnasium other than a swimming pool. Hostel facilities are separate for boys and girls with air-conditioned rooms. There is also a guesthouse, control room for officials during tournaments, conference and medical rooms.
Experienced coaches and trainers help the players. The coaching team includes Ajith, a champion player in the 40-plus category and former national junior champion. “Apart from me, there is former state player and NIS coach Rajinikanth, who is the head coach. We also have experienced senior, junior and assistant coaches. Sports Dynamix run by Ramji Srinivasan is the fitness consultant,’’ informed Ajith.
The fee structure is affordable. “As this is a part of CSR and non-profit activities of Hatsun Agro, the fee for the programme is highly subsidised. Also, there are cash awards and scholarships for the trainees based on their performance on a yearly basis, which further reduces the cost burden on them,’’ said Ajith.
The academy’s association with the school make it easy for residential players to pursue studies. “We have a tie-up with RJ Mantra English School (ICSE board) in Virudhunagar, which is part of the Idhyam group, where our players have flexible curriculum and attendance plan,’’ informed Ajith.
Rithvik Sanjeevi is the best player of the academy at the moment, having won the U-17 boys national title in 2019. “Apart from him, we have Siddhanth Gupta, Arunesh, Pranavi and Akshaya Arumugam, who have done well at the national level in U-17 and U-19 categories. Two sub-junior girls, Madhumitha and Reshika, had podium finishes at the national level, while Sarumathi represented the country in U-17 doubles, along with Pranavi,’’ said Ajith, hoping that the academy will produce many prominent names in the near future.