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Indian Badminton League is a boon for local players and fans alike

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Feature
1.27K   //    28 Jul 2013, 21:06 IST
Badminton Indonesia Open Super Series 2013

Saina Nehwal

A wave of franchise-based leagues seems to have swept India in recent years. With the advent of the Indian Premier League in 2008, many sporting bodies in the country decided to follow in the footsteps of cricket.

Last year, India’s national sport, hockey successfully organized the inaugural season of ‘Hockey India League’ and now it’s the turn of Badminton.

Indian Badminton League (IBL) is the brainchild of India’s badminton governing body BAI (Badminton Association of India). Similar to IPL, the IBL will feature players from India teaming up with top international shuttlers and represent six city-based franchises in a bid to win the cash rich league.

There are various reasons for the IBL to be a boon to not just for the players but for the sport as well. India is known to be a cricket crazy nation and it would not be fair to judge badminton against cricket. Cricket is way ahead in terms of popularity in India, but what the IBL will help to do is to create a niche of its own by consolidating a fledgling fan base especially among the youth for the game.

The inaugural edition of the league is scheduled to be held for a fortnight beginning on August 14. The timing of the tournament is apt as India’s cricket team is not scheduled to play any international series during this time and since Badminton is largely an indoor sport, the monsoons also won’t create any problems. This would help the official broadcaster ESPN Star Sports (ESS) to showcase all the matches and also receive a reasonable viewership.

The biggest benefit the players will receive will be in monetary terms. Few days back, IBL held its inaugural auction where the players were bid one by one.

India’s Saina Nehwal and Malaysia’s World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei were the biggest gainers. Many local badminton players will benefit as well as the league provides a platform for youngsters to play with the best in the world and thus, gain experience.

Apart from players, broadcasters also play a crucial role to make the league a success. ESS have been awarded the rights to showcase the mega event and looking at the track record that ESS has, IBL will surely get the buildup it deserves.

The league would be shown in a more professional way as compared to other networks. With just a fortnight to go for the league to start, ESS will soon launch a whole host of promos that should get the league up and running.

The city-based team format will help the game to grow in these cities and slowly across the country. The organizers should take care that tickets for the event are not overpriced.

Creating a fan base is one of the main objectives for the franchises and it can only be achieved when crowds come in to watch the matches on courts across the country. Quality matches are on offer and fans will surely be eager to watch it.

Chinese players won’t be participating in IBL’s inaugural edition. However, there is a likelihood that Chinese shuttlers could participate from next season. Indian players should make optimum use of this opportunity to rub shoulders with many of the world’s best and try and learn from the best of the game.

IBL does look a promising prospect and unless it gets embroiled in controversy, which happens to most of the sporting leagues in India, the league would be able to achieve its objective, that is, to promote local talent and the game of Badminton!

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