World No.4 women’s singles player, Juliane Schenk, the tour de force for Pune Pistons in the IBL, says she is overwhelmed by the response she got in the auction and described the world’s richest badminton league as a concept “that could bring new perspective to badminton in general”.
The 30-year-old German who is training for the World Championship in China next month with an acclimatization programme in Hong Kong, said, “For the first time in badminton history, there is a league where teams can buy players and bid for them at an auction. The IBL opens up the market and brings new perspective not only to players, but also to the sport in general.”
The 2013 India Open runners-up added, “The concept of auctioning players is common to soccer and cricket, but the IBL has introduced an interesting dimension to badminton by creating a new value for players in the market.”
Commenting on the challenges ahead for Pune Pistons in the IBL, Schenk, who has often been pitted against India’s Saina Nehwal, said, “I think one of the biggest challenges will be to form a strong team with different players coming from different countries.”
To that, she added, “As you have five matches in each team encounter and almost each two days, getting the team into the rhythm with hectic travelling will be the key. The team which can connect the players and the coaches well with each other will stand a good chance of winning.”
The 2011 World Championship bronze medalist shrugged away any question of being under pressure in the IBL. “I have many good memories of playing in India and I’ll simply try my best to enjoy each single match and also help my team-mates to perform. But yes, playing Indian players on home soil will always be challenging as I guess they won’t lack any motivation.”
Schenk also hailed the development of badminton in India and said the new League could set a new benchmark. “Badminton has huge potential and the IBL is setting new standards. Gopichand (India’s chief coach) is doing a great job with the players and an increasing number of Indians are now emerging into the world tour and challenging the more established and experienced players. PV Sindhu, Srikanth, Sai Praneeth and HS Prannoy are all doing well lately.”
The $1-million Indian Badminton League is set to launch on August 14, 2013, with some high-voltage action expected between Krrish Delhi Smashers and Pune Pistons. The 2013 IBL will feature six franchises and will run for 18 days. Each franchise will host a two-day leg and the League will showcase a grand total of 90 matches, providing broadcasters and in-stadia spectators with more than 100 hours of LIVE “family entertainment” which will also be viewed by a significant international audience.
The matches will be held during late afternoon and evening to coincide with prime time television and providing a convenient time for the stadium audience. The LIVE IN-stadia entertainment, combined with high-octane on-court action is expected to further hook viewers onto this new adrenalin packed LIVE family entertainment format attracting a much younger fan base, which also includes women and children.
The top four franchises in the League will clash in the semifinals and the winners will meet in the final on August 31, which will be played out in Mumbai.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) is the governing body for badminton in India. BAI is an association registered under the Societies Act and affiliated to the Badminton World Federation, BAC and the IOA. BAI was formed in 1934 and has been holding national-level tournaments in India since 1936.
BAI conducts international tournaments in India like the India Open Superseries, Syed Modi India Grand Prix, national championships, selects team and conducts camps for Olympic Games, World Championship, looks after training of technical officials, and takes path-breaking initiatives like Indian Badminton League to promote the sport.Published 30 Jul 2013, 17:51 IST