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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Let the games begin
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 13, 2013
First Published: 17:26 IST(13/8/2013)
Last Updated: 00:29 IST(14/8/2013)

The franchise badminton league which kicks off on Tuesday is both a tribute to the big strides the game is taking in India as well as a reflection of how far corporate entities and individuals are willing to go to create much smaller versions of the cricket league.



The most influential factor for the launch of the Indian Badminton League (IBL) is the success of Saina Nehwal who clinched the bronze medal in women's singles at the London Olympics last year. Nehwal's success has encouraged families to not only head to stadiums to watch high-quality contests but also believe that their own children can have a future in the game.

The $1-million prize money league is the latest to try and emulte IPL's success. Hockey, golf and boxing are the leading disciplines that have launched leagues to follow in cricket's footsteps.

The Indian football federation too is gearing up to launch a new league with big names. This is being touted as the best way to raise the game's standard.

The IBL organisers are delighted at the success of teenager PV Sindhu, whose remarkable run in Guangzhou fetched her India's third medal in a world championships.

That should only draw in more fans to the venues, especially to watch Nehwal, who will play for the Hyderabad franchise, against new sensation Sindhu, who will represent the Lucknow franchise.

As in any new project, there have been hiccups in the build-up to IBL. The organisers should have avoided the various issues that cropped up during the auction held this month.

The row over the slashing of the base price for leading women's doubles players, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa, on the eve of the auction was in bad taste.

Their task is cut out. Unless the first edition is organised well, it will send a negative signal to all stake holders.

But what will be most important, for badminton or other sports looking to take the franchise route to cash in on the growth of sports other than cricket in the country, is that India continue to shine at the international level. Without that sustained progress, the interest can quickly wane.


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