Banga Beats unveil logo

IBL a welcome addition: Vimal

A small gathering was witness to the unveiling of the logo for Bangalore’s ‘Banga Beats’ at the Karnataka Badminton Association here on Friday ahead of the much-anticipated Indian Badminton League.

Icon player Ashwini Ponnappa and former National champion and India coach Vimal Kumar and Sandalwood star Puneet Rajkumar were some of the dignitaries present on stage as the Bangalore-based team, sponsored by real estate giants BOP, became the first franchise to unveil its logo for the inaugural edition.

The $1 million prize-money tournament -- based on the lines of the hugely successful Indian Premier League and the World Hockey League -- will have its opening ceremony on August 13 in New Delhi before the tournament proper kicks off across five centres -- Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Pune -- a day later.

Ninety matches will be played during the course of the 18-day event and top four franchises in the league will face-off in the semifinals before the finalists battle it out in Mumbai on August 31.

IBL, the brainchild of Badminton Association of India, has already created quite a flutter in the world of badminton and it looks likely to continue to draw a good response despite a few early setbacks.

The auction for the league will be held on July 19. More than 150 players are expected to go under the hammer for 66 slots in six teams. Each franchisee can feature 11 players, including a maximum of four foreign shuttlers and one local under-19 player. There will be a total of six icon players starting with a base price of $50,000 in the auction, for whom franchises will bid from draw of lots.

Apart from Ashwini, Saina Nehwal, Jwala Gutta, Parupalli Kashyap and PV Sindhu have been handed the icon status, while a leading foreign player will be the sixth icon player. Each franchisee will be allotted a maximum spend of Rs 1.5 crore to bid for players, with icon players receiving 10 per cent more than the highest-bid player in the team.

“Badminton faces several problems in the country and sponsorship is one of the biggest issues but despite that you can see that the gap between international badminton and Indian badminton has grown smaller,” Banga Beats’ coach Vimal Kumar said.

“Of late, a lot of companies are coming in to support the game. But this league alone won’t help badminton in the country. We need to focus on the State leagues and also at the grassroot level to make a change. This (IBL) is only an addition andit puts badminton in the spotlight and that is great for the sport.”

BOP representative Karan Chaudhry said: “We are also planning to conduct camps and clinics across Bangalore throughout the year. We will surely put up infrastructure for these camps but we can only unveil those details later on.”

Ashwini said: “We are very excited about playing this tournament. It is something we are looking forward to. People will get to watch a lot of thrilling matches and that augurs well for the sport.”

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