BAI president stresses on health insurance, better calendar

Badminton Association of India president Himanta Biswa Sarma, in a conclave featuring the who's who of Indian badminton, stressed on the need for a better health insurance for players; better scheduling; top players playing domestic tournaments among other things.

Saina Nehwal (left) and P. V. Sindhu, India's top two women shuttlers at the India Super Series. BAI president Himanta Biswa Sarma called for top players to participate in domestic tournaments.   -  PTI

Appreciating the efforts of the late president Akhilesh Das Gupta, the newly inducted president of the Badminton Association of India (BAI), Himanta Biswa Sarma, assured that every effort would be made to take Indian badminton to the next level by creating a "favourable eco system."

Sarma interacted with current players — Saina Nehwal, P. V. Sindhu, Ajay Jayaram, K. Srikanth, H. S. Prannoy, G. Jwala, Ashwini Ponnappa; coaches — P. Gopichand and Vimal Kumar; and several former players, including the legendary Prakash Padukone and the 1965 Asian champion Dinesh Khanna.

Sarma, then, released long-pending cash awards to the winners of various tournaments over the last few years. Of Rs. 1.07 crore, P. Kashyap received Rs. 30 lakh.

The other cash award recipients were Saina Nehwal (Rs. 25 lakh), P. V. Sindhu (Rs. 20 lakh), G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa (Rs.10 lakh each), K. Srikanth (Rs. 6 lakh) and Guru Sai Dutt (Rs.5 lakh).

It was clarified that Sindhu had been earlier presented Rs.50 lakh by the BAI for her Rio Olympics silver medal.

The president also listed the problems and measures to improve the governance of badminton in the country.

"Our administration has to be in tune with the progress of the game. Our earlier system will not work. Badminton is the most popular game, and we can’t afford to have a laid-back attitude. We need to be forward thinking and we are determined to change our system’’, said Sarma.

The BAI president acknowledged the importance of having a clear calendar and announcing the teams early for tournaments so that players trying to compete on their own would not have to incur escalated airline fares for booking their tickets late.

"Doubles does not get due importance. We have to take care of it. A chain of academies, with the same standard should be located across the country. It is difficult tor a north player to adjust to the conditions in Hyderabad, and it is the same for a south player in the north."

"If McDonald's can provide the same standard in Guwahati and Bengaluru, why not we achieve similar standard in professional sport’’, said Dr. Sarma.

He also conceded that the services of the former players should be utilised for the growth of the game.

It was important, he said, to monitor all tournaments to identify talent at the grassroots level. He also stressed on the need for a good health insurance for players, so that they go through the injury and rehabilitation without financial worries.

The president also felt that the top players, despite their busy schedules, need to play domestic tournaments, whenever possible, to inspire the young players in the country.

Responding to a query on the same topic, Saina Nehwal said that the top players were competing for about 18 weeks internationally and were in the constant race for keeping their rank up to be eligible for the mega-events like the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the Olympics.

The former World No.1 said that efforts were being made to find a slot so that top players could all be present for one event in a season, and compete energetically as well.

"We do play the PBL, the Syed Modi tournament in Lucknow, the Indian Open Super Series. It is not easy to manage the programme. Some times you get injured. When you come back you have to focus even more on international events. When you work at a higher level, it is not easy to come back."

"It is not that we don’t want to play events at home. We will try to find a slot for one tournament when all of us can play," she said.

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