The Badminton Association of India’s (BAI) decision not to allow any players to participate in any tournaments, including the forthcoming Super Series events in Singapore and Indonesia, for the next two months is threatening to become a bone of contention between senior players and the apex body.
The players feel that their absence from the Super Series events could affect their rankings in the Olympic qualification year. It would be difficult for them to recover the lost points in the final stages. As a result, they are preparing to take up the matter with BAI president VK Verma when he visits Hyderabad on April 5.
The problem started after the BAI executive decided that no players would be allowed to participate in any international tournament — even at their own cost — till the Sudirman Cup in June and should instead attend the training camp in Hyderabad to get fitter.
The move came as a shock to seniors like national men’s champion Chetan Anand, twice champion Anup Sridhar and women’s doubles champions Jwala Gutta and Shruti Kurien, who were assured of a direct entry in these tournaments. Even the other top players, who were looking to improve their rankings and stake their claim for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, were unhappy with the decision.
Sridhar, who reached the semifinals of the German Open last month, is likely to be affected the most as he had reached the quarterfinals of the Singapore Open and the pre-quarterfinals of the Indonesian Open last year and could drop down by almost 50 spots in the ranking.
Verma, along with Pradeep Gandhe, coaching committee chairman, and TPS Puri, BAI vice president and Chairman of Monitoring of the National team in preparation for 2010 Commonwealth Games, is due to visit the elite camp to take stock of the progress and meet the players.
Sensing that this is their best chance, some of the senior players are gearing themselves up for a hard talk with the officials.
"We tried our best to convince the officials through written communication. But they did not budge from their stand,” a senior player told HT on condition of anonymity. “We can’t allow them to mess up our career and we will make that clear to them when we meet face-to-face on April 5."
Gandhe justified the decision of the BAI, saying it was taken after considering the performance of the players in the recently concluded European circuit.
"The committee felt that the players had got enough exposure but their performance was not up to the mark due to lack of fitness,” he said.
The former international emphasized that the seniors would be given a patient hearing during their visit to Hyderabad on Thursday. But it is unlikely that the BAI would change its stand.