A regular in the international circuit for the last couple of decades, Mathias Boe, the Dane star, has over the years emerged as one of the prominent names in the world of badminton.
A top doubles player, Boe will don the Pune 7Aces colours when the Premier Badminton League (PBL) gets underway next month. The franchise owned by Bollywood actress and Boe’s old friend, Taapsee Pannu, roped in the Dane star for ₹50 lakh in the auctions, and he is looking forward to delivering the goods. While his friendship with Taapsee goes back a long way, Boe admits that it is a special feeling for him to play for the new franchise. But then, he also jokes that it will not be an easy task as ‘Taapsee will be after’ him, like ‘always’. With the tournament nearing, a cheerful Boe speaks exclusively to Sportstar on a range of issues…
You have been a PBL regular, but this time as you are with the new franchise, Pune 7Aces, what are your thoughts?
I think it’s great to see the league expend to more teams. It shows that there is an increasing interest for badminton in India, and I hope more teams and cities will follow. To join Pune 7Aces is of course a bit special for me as I personally know the owners and team staff. I feel an even bigger responsibility joining this team.
A new franchise, Pune 7Aces, has managed to get some of the top shuttlers like you and Carolina Marin. How do you see the combination?
I was watching the auction live from Denmark, and prior to the auction, I also shortlisted players who fit the profile of the team, and I’m very happy with the players we have got. And I have great faith in them.
In a franchise-based league, it is very important for a player to maintain a good rapport with the owners and team management. Since you have known the Pune team owner, Taapsee Pannu, for a while, do you think that will help you?
Players are paid a good amount of money, so it’s only fair teams that owners expect them to deliver on court. Taapsee will be after me, as she always is, so this will be no easy task for me (laughs) .
Being a senior in the side, what are your thoughts on the league structure? Do you think franchise-style leagues have actually helped the game grow?
In a cricket-happy nation like India, I hope PBL can attract more awareness about badminton. India has got some of the best players in the world, and I think PBL is the right step for badminton and with time maybe it can even challenge cricket as sport No. 1.
What are the changes that you see in young players these days?
Don’t know if I see any change in the young players. To be a world-class player, you need to practise an insane amount of time, the competition is really hard.
Over the years, the game has become more challenging. Given that, how much of a challenge is it for the senior players to adapt to the newer changes?
You need to be aware of the latest trends, and always analyse what the players who are winning the tournaments are doing, and try to adapt to that.
Since you keep coming to India and keep a track on Indian shuttlers, what are your thoughts on them?
India is now considered a great badminton nation, which is respected by all the big badminton nations.
With so many talents around, who are the Indian players you keep an eye on?
There are many talented players, to mention one is of course Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, who is also considered one of the best young players worldwide. Also Pune 7Aces’ own Chirag Shetty has got great potential as a player. I am personally very happy that we grabbed him at the auction.
These days, a lot depends on the psychological aspect. Being a professional, how do you see this? How important is it to mend the mind ahead of crucial tournaments?
Among the top players, the matches are won on a mental level.
What are the major changes you have witnessed in the game over the years?
I feel the competition has become harder, there are no easy matches anymore.
There was a time when the world of badminton would mainly hover around Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei. Now, do you think that supremacy is broken?
The new kid on the block is Kento Momota, but don’t rule players like Lee Chong, Chen Long and Lin Dan out yet; they know what it takes.
How do you see the rise of young players? Some of them have actually gone on to beat the biggest of names...
As mentioned, there are no easy matches anymore, anyone can beat anyone.
With new teams coming in, how competitive will the PBL be this time?
We’ll be treated to some world-class badminton, from some of the finest players. It’s just time to sit back and enjoy.
How different are the European Leagues from PBL? And what model should be followed for the betterment of the game?
In the European league, you can sign any player you like. So, normally whoever has got the most money will have the better team. The structure with the auction here makes it more even, and also this year it’s really difficult to point at a favourite to win the title.
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