The successful auction of players for the Indian Badminton League (IBL) represents a massive boost for the sport in India. India has produced some excellent shuttlers in the past - the likes of Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand ranked among the best in the world - and can currently boast of a crop of talented young players, including women's World No. 3 Saina Nehwal. However, Indian badminton lacks the resources and heft to dominate the sport like Chinese badminton has in recent years. And in a country obsessed with cricket, it is often treated in a step-motherly fashion by authorities and sponsors alike.
It's in this context that the IBL could usher in a new era in the Indian badminton. Based on cricket's Indian Premier League (IPL) model, this new league will feature six private city-based franchises - Hyderabad Hotshots, Delhi Smashers, Pune Pistons, Banga Beats (Bangalore), Mumbai Masters and Lucknow Warriors - vying for the championship title and a purse of $1 million. This not only makes the IBL the richest badminton tournament in the world, but also represents a fantastic platform that brings together budding Indian talents and international stalwarts of the game.
The IBL represents a big break for Indian badminton. But copying the franchise-league model does not guarantee success on its own. A similar boxing league failed to take off despite interest garnered after the success of Indian pugilists at the 2008 Olympic Games. However, the IBL will be banking on badminton's significant cultural connect in Indian society. For far too long India has been seen as a one-sport nation. IBL's success could break the mould and draw greater interest in sports other than cricket.
Source: Times of India