BAI looks to strengthen player base

Aim is to have zonal academies across the country, says Narang

 The Badminton Association of India (BAI) said it is working rapidly towards creating a strong player base all across the country and is in the process of receiving applications for new academies.

So far the southern Indian cities are popular for their badminton academies but all this could soon change, the federation insists. “People will soon see good academies in the west, north and eastern India too. Our vision is to have a player base all over the country and to have zonal academies everywhere. Like cricket, we want to expand across the country. We have been receiving applications from small centres like Baroda and also northeastern states,” BAI secretary Anup Narang told Deccan Herald.

Also, upcoming academies like the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence could play a major role in nurturing future talents. BAI president Himanta Biswa Sarma had recently visited the centre and was impressed. The state-of-the-art Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence, coming up in the outskirts of Bengaluru, will have facilities for various sports, including badminton courts.

The affiliations to the academies, though, will only be given if they meet the standards set by BAI. “We have five to six criteria for an academy to get BAI affiliation like playing facility, players' stay, sports science, diet and nutrition. BAI will also be monitoring the approved academies,” he said.

Narang also said that it has been decided that entries to international tournaments will be strictly monitored in case of those who participate on their own. In the past there have been instances where below-par players have got NOC from federation and represented the country. "You cannot allow just anyone to go and represent the country. Rankings is one aspect to see whether the player, if he has missed out on national selection, deserves a chance to participate in an international tournament," he said. "Also, if a player has had a great run on the domestic circuit and shown quick progress, he or she may get a look in for an NOC.”

Meanwhile, it has been learned that BAI under the leadership of Sarma, who is BJP minister in Assam, is keen to pick up the badminton scene in the northeast. It might result in a team from northeast in the Premier Badminton League, which is likely to get expanded with addition of new franchises from next year.

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