Delhi badminton looks for a fresh start

July 21, 2020, Delhi

BadmintonNational Academy


A rich badminton pedigree, quality coaches, good infrastructure and a host to the nation’s topmost prize money tournament — India Open – Delhi has everything to produce world-class players in a sport where the country has stamped its presence at the international level.

Yet, for some reasons the capital has lagged way behind cities like Hyderabad and Bengaluru, or even western Indian cities of Mumbai and Pune in terms of badminton growth. The state boasts a bevy of former stars in former Asian champion Dinesh Khanna, multiple times national champion Madhumita Bisht, or internationals like Vikram Bisht, Manjusha Kanwar, Ajay Kanwar to name a few. All of them have been running coaching academies in the capital. These flourishing academies have around 1000 courts, making the capital only the third city in the country after Hyderabad and Bengaluru to have such facilities.

What has hurt the sport most in Delhi, though, is the administrative apathy. The two factions of the state badminton federation have been engaged in a long-drawn court battle over running the show in the city. The Badminton Association of India (BAI) recognizes Delhi Capital Badminton Association (DCBA), but the infighting has hit the development of the game. A call for the two factions to reach a compromise has yielded no result.

DCBA is now looking to begin afresh with a new president and former international Ameeta Sinh at the helm. “There is no doubt that Delhi has a very good infrastructure for badminton because of the 1982 Asian Games and then 2010 Commonwealth Games. The talent is also there but it needs to be supported and provided proper facilities,” said Ameeta, who represented India in the 82 Asiad in the capital.

“After Madhumita, Delhi has not been able to give an international player of that level, and despite having the infrastructure in place,” she said during a webinar, with chief national coach Pullela Gopichand in attendance.

A state-of-the-art academy for Delhi is one of the goals of DCBA’s new president. “The state federation should have one academy where the best players can train. There are 300 plus academies in Delhi. Promising players need to be selected from there and should be put in a sports academy which should facilitate their career, providing the best coaches, sports medicine and nutrition experts. I would seek assistance from the government as well as CSR in helping us in the creation of sports academy,” she added.

Manjusha, a four-time national champion (singles), hopes the change at the helm will boost Delhi badminton. She and her husband, former international Ajay Kanwar, run their academy at Yamuna Sports Complex and have also started a new academy in Noida.

“Players suffer when there are two federations. I hope she (Sinh) is able to find a middle way and get the team organized. It will do good for players,” said Manjusha.

“Several Delhi kids have been selected for the national academy in Hyderabad and are playing at junior, sub-junior levels. Unfortunately, it is never highlighted and as a state we have not been able to give them importance. They just need to have a bit of confidence and self-belief.

“I would also like to see a nice, organised and structured state calendar,” said Manjusha.

DCBA vice president Anup Narang, the former BAI secretary, says a state academy will encourage players. “Our kids get the opportunity to see a world tour event—Super Series. Our players have the best infrastructure which even the Badminton World Federation acknowledges, be it at Sirifort Sports Complex, IG Stadium or Yamuna Complex.

“Earlier nobody was taking a keen interest to see the issues of the players. Now we have a president who is an ex-player and serious about the development. If we have a state academy where we can select a core group of players it will encourage children to work hard and get selected in state academy. It is easier for them to spring up from there.”

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