Dev S Sukumar/ DNA
Bangalore, Feb 4: After plenty of talk of replicating the IPL model in other sports, a taluk badminton association in Maharashtra has taken the initiative of organizing an inter-club league beginning in May this year. The Haveli Taluka Badminton Association, founded in 2008, has finalized a league based on the IPL model, and an auction date of February 20 has been set. Uday Sane, an international referee and Jt Secretary of the Pune District Badminton Association, is the man behind the initiative. The league will comprise of six teams based in Maharashtra, and will include only players hailing from the state.
“The state association (MBA) has given the green signal,” said Uday Sane to DNA. “We’re in the last planning stage. We’ve finalized the number of teams, and the format. It will have two men’s singles, and one women’s singles, one mixed doubles and one men’s doubles. There will be no women’s doubles because Maharashtra does not have good players in this category. We’ve approached several companies, including builders and media groups. The response has been good. Two companies have confirmed their participation, and we’re expecting four or five others to follow suit.”
With a number of international players, such as Aditi Mutatkar, Ajay Jayaram, Sagar Chopda, Sayali Gokhale and Gayatri Vartak, the prospects for the league look promising.
The format of the event will be league-cum-knock out, with winners taking home Rs 3 lakh and runners-up Rs 2 lakh.
The event will be held on Saturdays and Sundays over three weeks. Players will be paid based on ranking, with internationally ranked players making Rs 35,000, national players Rs 25,000 and state-ranked players to make Rs15,000. Although this seems like chickenfeed compared to what the cricketers make, this is good money for a badminton player. The minimum bid for a franchise will be Rs 2 lakh.
VK Verma, the embattled President of the Badminton Association of India, called it a “very positive step”. “Maharashtra is the first state to form such a league; if it is successful, the model can be replicated in other states,” he said. Asked if an all-India league was possible, he said most of the top players would be busy as this was the Olympic qualifying year. “We have this in mind, but then, the top players should participate. Otherwise the title sponsor will lose interest.”
National champion and Puneite Aditi Mutatkar was thrilled with the development. “It’s a very good step,” she said. “It will help the game a lot. With bigger sponsors, the game can attract better press. The money is good, and the league will help junior players. Maharashtra needs something like this – the quality of badminton in the state has gone down in recent times. It should be fun.”
Six teams; five matches (two men’s singles, one women’s singles, one mixed doubles, one men’s doubles)
Prize money: Rs 3 lakh for winners, Rs 2 lakh for runners-up
Auction date: February 20
Training of players: April
League to begin: May