Cricket is inarguably the most popular sport in India. It is not farfetched to say there isn’t an Indian who is not familiar with cricket stars. Cricket is a sport that is likened in India by urban as well as rural people across ages, from a kinder kids to octagenarians. As someone rightly put it “Cricket is not a game it is a religion in India.”
The advent of IPL has pulled even the rural youth to take cricket as a career as now we can see many unknown players coming into the fore suddenly like a rabbit out of the hat and in fact performing well. This was not the case earlier, before IPL that is. The revenue the sport generates and the prospect of changing fortunes for the career seeks are unmatched.
Increasing Craze For Badminton
However, off late badminton is beginning to garner craze in India and for the last decade or so, this sport has grown immensely in terms of popularity. This sport has deep roots in many urban areas but due to various reasons couldn’t get the momentum it deserves.
Now, with the increasing success of Indian players at various` international levels, viz Srikanth, Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, etc, this sport is gaining popularity in India. With increasing facilities and many private and public coaching facilities coming up, this can only get better if everything plays right. There are hundreds of coaching academies in India and this number is only going up every year.
The standards have increased and the competition surged extraordinarily in the last 5 years or so. There are many kids who have taken up this sport as a career and support among the parent community is also growing. Many state governments like Odisha and Telangana are doing their every bit to extract talent.
There is Premier Badminton League (PBL) similar to IPL of cricket, which provides a platform for domestic players to play alongside foreign and Indian international players. The prize many keeps on increasing and even the sponsorers lining up puts up a rosy picture.
Can Badminton Become the Next Cricket
The answer is definitely yes though a few boxes need to be ticked for it to get it there. There is no lack of player pool, support at the ground level, infrastructure.
Hurdles for Badminton
I summarized all the positives for the sport but not everything is looking great. There are some factors that hinder the sport.
Badminton is a hugely expensive sport compared to cricket or others, be it shuttles, rackets or stadiums, and this is the major hindrance for badminton. On average, a professional player needs to shell out 15 to 20 thousand a month just for coaching and shuttles, and other equipment like shoes (which cost a bomb), rackets (tend to break with slightest of misuse) excluded. Though there are a few government facilities run by State, they are very few and the number of players they can accommodate is very less. The private coaching centers charge heftily and it is not for the common man to afford them. The only solution for this is for the government to come up with more coaching centers.
Coaching Staff Shortage
There is a huge gap between the standards of coaching staff available in India and those available in countries like Indonesia, Korea, and Denmark. Filling up this gap is not that easy and it takes a lot of genuine effort and intent from the governing bodies to do so.
Like any other sport in India, this is a huge factor in pulling the sport down. I have seen many players with beards and mustaches playing in Under-13 tournaments and the authorities are usually left helpless due to vested interests of governing bodies of different states.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) is not that active like BCCI of cricket and is usually headed by politicians, making it run unprofessionally. Transparency needs to be increased in the administration and even the selection criteria need to be modified but things are moving the right way slowly but steadily.
There are a lot of things going right for the sport of badminton and though there are few hurdles here and there, hopefully, there are better times ahead for the sport.