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Prakash Padukone's latest feather in the shuttle

April 8, 2009

Prakash Padukone opened his third academy at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai on Wednesday.

The former All-England champion already has two such centres in place, in Bangalore and Pune.

The focus of this academy will be on encouraging youngsters -- predominantly in the under-18 category -- from Mumbai and surrounding regions.

"The facilities here (at the CCI) are of very high standards," said Padukone, before elaborating.

"This will be a feeder centre for players between eight and 18 years of age and those with talent would be picked for further training at our main centre in Bangalore. We hope to start functioning from May 1st."

The legend said the purpose behind starting a third school remains the same as it was when he began in Bangalore 15 years back.

"When I started playing in the 1970s badminton was not very well-known in the south, where another sport called ball badminton was popular. I used to practice in a marriage hall. I want to provide the players what I missed as a player," explained Padukone, who in 1980 became the first Indian to lift the prestigious All-England title.

"In the last 15 years we have achieved some success at the international level. Gopi (Pullela Gopichand, All-England champion in 2001) was with us for four years. We started with Dipankar Bhattacharya and have also trained Aparna Popat and others," he added.

Padukone said he would visit the Mumbai centre at regular intervals to monitor the progress made by the youngsters.

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