BAI to take a call on national championship after discussing with players

As the Badminton World Federation announced its new World Tour calendar packed with Super 100, Super 300, 500, 750, 1000 and the World Tour Finals through the year, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) is left with the tough task of deciding on the timing of the national championship while keeping in mind the Commonwealth Games as well as the Asian Games.

Badminton Association of India (BAI) secretary Anup Narang said the primary focus will be on the Yonex Sunrise India Open (Super 500), the All-England Championships, the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.   -  Ashwin Achal

As the Badminton World Federation announced its new World Tour calendar packed with Super 100, Super 300, 500, 750, 1000 and the World Tour Finals through the year, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) is left with the tough task of deciding on the timing of the national championship while keeping in mind the Commonwealth Games as well as the Asian Games.

Only last year, the BAI had resurrected the poorly attended nationals with a whopping Rs. 1 crore prize money on offer and got the top badminton players in the country participate. 

“Yes, there will be a national championship this year for sure. We may even have the nationals in the summer. It may happen in June or July, we are not sure. We will have to put the nationals in any short window we get, but we will have to have it this year. Our future players will spring up only when we have such tournaments,” Anup Narang, BAI general secretary and spokesperson said.

The BAI has made it clear that it will seek the views of their players before finalising on the dates of the National Championships.

“We are planning to ask our players when we should hold the nationals because we want them to play. It is not going to be easy. They are forced to play 12 Superseries (World Tour) and then they have to play the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games as well. We want our major players to spell out which 12 out these 20-odd tournaments they will be playing. Based on that, we will make the calendar and schedule the nationals. The players and the administrators have to come together and take a combined decision,” Narang said.

The general secretary also said the primary focus will be on the Yonex Sunrise India Open (Super 500), the All-England Championships, the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. “We have a two-pronged strategy: 1. Try and ensure that our players are able to retain certain top-level rankings for which they will have to play certain tournaments. 2. Our endeavour is that they get enough rest and practice time for our two major team events – the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games,” he said.

Too early to judge BWF scheduling

The BAI felt it was too early to judge and approach the BWF on its scheduling of the tournament.

“We haven’t met them formally to discuss. They also have to see how this unfolds. They made a format during the BWF Council Meets. What happens is that during some years, you will have multiple other international tournaments organised by other Olympic committees that also has to be considered. It can be tight. That’s why players have shown dissent on why they have to play a minimum of 12 tournaments (this year).

 “Some of the top players have already said they want only four or five which are like Grand Slams, should be made mandatory. Playing 12 mandatory tournaments will result in a lot of injuries as well. If, what the players say is right, then you know they could be overloading. Because this is a new thing, BWF will probably go back to the drawing board and contemplate,” Narang said, adding: “It’s a new concept for all of us. We have to see how it unfolds and how successful it is.”

Narang was balanced in his assessment of the ongoing Premier Badminton League, which expanded from a 15-day season to a 23-day format to accommodate two more teams from this year.

“There’s no top player who is not here be it in the men’s singles, the women’s singles or the doubles combination. This was an experimental thing for us to shift from 15-day format to a 23-day format.

“We are at a place where we have to see all the pluses and minuses. See what the limitations are and what needs to be corrected. Personally, I feel having a window of 24 days is a little longish at times. They have done some good things like restricting the number of centres to four this so that players don’t have to travel too much. So it is a mix of both,” he said.

He was, however, unsure if the BAI will be able to accommodate a bigger schedule for the PBL. “In the coming years, with so much of packed schedule, it will be difficult to get a window for so long. So that has to be worked out. Let us hope and see how it can be enforced.”

On the juniors’ circuit, Narang said the BAI was planning on having Junior National camps in various centres to prepare the players for two major events: The Dutch Open and the German Open. “We want to showcase our juniors because the earlier they get on to the global arena, the more they will grow. Our policy is to ‘Take India forward’,” he said.

Lifetime achievement award for Padukone

BAI, meanwhile, announced that the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award will be conferred to badminton legend Prakash Padukone just before the inauguration of the Yonex Sunrise India Open in New Delhi beginning on January 29 where the top players in the world including Tai Tzu Ying and Carolina Marin are expected to compete.