Badminton players attract whopping payoffs in IPL-style league

Auction for the Amanora Maharashtra Badminton League, held on Sunday, saw team owners loosening their purse strings; Jishnu Sanyal wins max bid for Rs 81,000 for three weekends of badminton

Dev S Sukumar/ DNA

Pune: A mini badminton revolution was launched on Sunday in Pune – the birthplace of modern badminton. An IPL-style league finally took off, with the auction of 79 players – bringing some of them a windfall that they’d never have expected in their wildest dreams.
Doubles player Jishnu Sanyal attracted the maximum bid of a whopping Rs 81,000 –peanuts by cricket standards but huge money in badminton, for this involves matches over three weekends. Pune’s national champion Aditi Mutatkar and Arundhati Pantwane shared the highest bid for the women – Rs 55,000 each. The league will be held only on Saturdays and Sundays, and will begin on May 7th at WI Sports Complex, Pune.
The Amanora Maharashtra Badminton League will have six teams, who bid from among 79 players on Sunday at the O Hotel, Koregaon Park, Pune. The league is the brainchild of the Haveli Taluka Badminton Association, and is supported by the associations of Thane and Pune, under the aegis of the state association.
National champ Mutatkar was stunned when told she had won a bid for Rs 55,000. “It’s a big surprise,” she said. “I never thought this would happen during my career. It will have huge significance. It can attract juniors. This shows that people are coming forward to support badminton. The money might go up the next year, and perhaps this will even evolve into a national league.”
Each team had a maximum amount of Rs 2.5 lakh to spend. Players were divided into ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ categories, depending on their level of performance. The base price for ‘A’ category was Rs 30,000, for ‘B’ category Rs25,000 and for ‘C’ category Rs15,000.
Jishnu attracted the top bid from Fabulous Falcons, owned by Jain Irrigation, Jalgaon, while Aditi was bought by Sensational Skylarks (Builders Combine and Radiant Sports Management, Pune), while Arundhati was picked up by Inspiring Eagles (Pratham Motors, Pune).
Uday Sane, Secretary of the organizing committee and a respected international umpire, said the money spent by teams had surprised him. “We earlier had a cap of Rs 2.25 lakh, but the team owners wanted it hiked to Rs2.5 lakh,” he told DNA. “The base price started at Rs30,000 and then shot up. That a badminton player will make Rs81,000 for three weekends is great news.”
Sane was thrilled that most owners were from outside the fraternity, but had done their homework on the players. “They’re not from a badminton background at all. We had one owner from a rural place – Sangli. They want to have exhibition matches over there. The value for badminton is growing up.”
Six celebrity Marathi actresses have been roped in as brand ambassadors: Bhargavi Chirmule, Sonali Khare, Kranti Redkar, Kadambari Kadam and Saee Tamhankar.
Those responsible for the league were: Aniruddha Deshpande, Chairman of the Organizing Committee (MBL); Pradeep Gandhe, President of MBA; Uday Sane, Secretary of the Organizing Committee and Avinash Jadhav, Vice President, Haveli Taluka Badminton Association.

Teams and main players:
Daring Doves: Ehsan Naqvi, Trupti Murgunde
Fabulous Falcons: Jishnu Sanyal, Sayali Gokhale
Flamboyant Flamingos: Ajay Jayaram, Neha Pandit
Gorgeous Gannets: Akshay Dewalkar, Gauri Ghate
Inspiring Eagles: Anand Pawar, Arundhati Pantwane, Prajakta Sawant
Sensational Skylarks: Aditi Mutatkar, Ameya Joshi

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About badmintonmania

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the Indian in Thoreau's Walden who makes cane baskets and is surprised nobody wants them. A. was talking about discipline when she said: "But Dev, if you want to move ahead in life, you'll have to be like that," and she may as well have defined everything else for me. I've played the low percentage game for too long to believe there's anything in it but the romance; the odds keep getting jacked up higher and higher; and you may be a good Idealist but a worse Fool.
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