'IBL will grow bigger'

MEETA AHLAWAT

“The IBL is one of the best things to have happened to Indian badminton,” says Saina Nehwal (in pic) in a chat with V. V. Subrahmanyam.

Saina Nehwal is of the view that the Chinese players should have preferred to play in the inaugural edition of the Indian Badminton League, beginning on August 14.

“I know they have a closed pattern of preparations over the years. They are very choosy, both in training and taking part in big events. But I still feel they should have played in the IBL,” says the Hyderabad Hotshots icon player.

“It is the duty of all professional badminton players to promote an event like IBL. It is definitely not good if some of them skip events like this.

“I am confident, with the evolution of the IBL in the next few years, there will be Chinese players as by that time they would realise the importance and popularity of the League and, most importantly, the prize money involved,” says Saina.

From the Indian point of view, she says, “the IBL is one of the best things to have happened to Indian badminton.

“Honestly, I was surprised by the number of big guns that lined up to buy the six franchisees. This is the best news for Indian badminton,” Saina says.

She adds: “The IBL offers a huge window of opportunities and exposure to many players — both seasoned and young. Moreover, every player is assured of some financial support.

“Yes, the IBL should also answer the big query that I have often faced from many parents — ‘why should kids take up badminton if there is no promise of any returns?’ The League should be a big boost for all.

“I have no doubts that the IBL will grow bigger and bigger as many top players may not be willing to skip it in the future.”

The 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist strongly believes that the IBL will bring in the much-needed professionalism to the sport. “There will be lots of crowds to watch the big players; the kids will be there. It will be some sort of a revolution for the sport,” Saina says.

Talking of her team Hyderabad Hotshots, Saina says she is immensely delighted at the prospect of being in the same side as that of the former Olympic champion, Taufik Hidayat. Recalling the mixed doubles exhibition match she had played with the great Indonesian — who has now retired from international badminton — in the 2009 Syed Modi Memorial tournament in Lucknow, Saina says, “Taufik Sir is known for his wrist play; his back strokes are matchless and so nicely and accurately hit and his net play and court coverage is unparalleled. I have great memories of that match. Very excited to play with him and share a few thoughts on the sport.”