After hockey, now world badminton is showing increasing interest in India as the destination to market the sport in a big way. A survey conducted by the world body shows that after China the sport is played the most in India.
"The profile of Indian badminton has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of popularity and performance and we want to make the country the new hub for the sport," said Badminton Association of India (BAI) president VK Verma in New Delhi on Friday, adding that the April 12-18 Asian Badminton Championships in New Delhi will be a big opportunity to tell the world what India is all about.
Verma said the Asian Championships, which will also test the facilities developed for the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games, would surely showcase India's progress both game wise as well as organisationally to the Badminton World Federation (BWF).
"With state-of-the-art facilities at the newly constructed Siri Fort Sports Complex, we want Delhi to be the capital of Asian badminton, and India the first choice destination for world badminton," said Verma.
The survey conducted by BWF form the basis of the world body's increasing interest in India.
"The worldwide survey showed that after China, India is the country where the sport is played the most and today the world body treats India with respect," Verma said.
Verma also said the recent performance of the men's and women's team in Thomas and Uber Cup shows the graph is moving upwards in international badminton.
"It will be the first time that Indian team will feature in the finals of Thomas and Uber Cup. India is seventh in the rankings in both Thomas and Uber Cup which is a marked improvement from the 20th in international rankings."
"Also, Saina Nehwal reached the semi-finals of the All-England Championships. So all these results have been a matter of pride and encouragement for us."
Talking of facilities at the new complex, Verma hoped the power centre of Asian badminton will shift from Kuala Lumpur to Delhi.
"In the past we could not match with other major badminton centres as we lacked world class facilities in New Delhi. In the last seven years Kuala Lumpur became a major badminton centre and we were helpless. There was not a single indoor hall in the capital of world specification. But now there are four large AC indoor halls at the Siri Fort stadium."
"I have invited members of BWF and Badminton Asia to see for themselves the world class facilities at the stadium, so that Delhi can host big tournaments," said Verma.
"We hosted the World Badminton championships in Hyderebad last year, the World junior championships in Pune and the Indian Open which is now a regular feature. All these top class events have made the sport highly popular. Like cricket, we want to attract more eyeballs."