PBL to be ‘less stressful’ for players, say organisers

The league has been designed keeping in mind the busy schedule for top badminton players.

Saina Nehwal...“I’m happy that the prize money has improved but the calendar is hard.”   -  PTI

Saina Nehwal had understandably been perplexed by an unending 2018 season staring at her as the BWF had made it mandatory for top players to compete in the Super Series tourneys. But there could be some relief assured by the Premier Badminton League organisers, who have declared the upcoming league would be “less stressful” for the players.

They emphasised that a lot of thought had gone into designing the league and the venues.

The inclusion of two new would have meant 31 matches for the eight participating contingents, and a lot of travel for the home and away matches. However, the league has been restricted to 23 matches and five venues - Guwahati, Delhi, Lucknow, Chennai and Hyderabad.

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The four venues were decided by “a draw of lots” and Chennai was offered its matches as it had not hosted the league the last time. “The other four teams will host next year,” said Atul Pandey, the Chairman of SportzLive, a body which has been in charge of conceptualising and executing the league for the last two editions, in collaboration with the national federation.

‘Calendar is hard’

Saina supported the growth of badminton and better chances for juniors to excel, but was categorical that a packed calendar - with the rider of compulsory participation in the Super Series - was “totally not right” for players. “If I were the president of BWF, I will follow the tennis way, and have four or five big events like the Grand Slams with a lot of prize money. I am happy that the prize money has improved but the calendar is hard. It affects the fitness of all the players. I need a lot of time to get back to my level,” Saina said.

She felt that hectic schedule led to “too many champions,” as it was hard for the best to be on top of their game consistently.

Pandey pointed out that each player would need to play five to seven matches over three weeks in the league, which was less taxing than the regular international circuit. He also pointed to the upside of the sport’s expansion - 40 more players would be able to make a good living from the game.

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