Badminton needs investment

July 26, 2020

Pakistan lags far behind neighbouring India in the sport primarily because of lack of facilities

Pakistan has immense talent in badminton but due to lack of proper structure and exposure the nation is much behind other nations in the discipline. It cannot even make its presence felt in South Asia as we finished fourth overall with three bronze in the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal last year.

The big issue is that due to its expensive nature shuttlers are unable to bear the cost of training as there is very little support from the state and corporate sector.

This forces the country’s top players to opt for dual jobs. Unless shuttlers get financial support, extensive exposure and quality coaching they will not improve. India, on the other hand, has been progressing in the discipline, having already left its impression at the Olympics and world level.

Let’s ask former Pakistan coach Raziuddin Ahmed and he will tell you how India has improved and where we stand in badminton. “Sports always remained top priority in India. It has allocated Rs2826.92 crore for sports development for the fiscal year 2020-2021 which is an increase of a Rs50 crore from previous year. Pakistan, on the other hand, has allocated only Rs595 million for sports development,” Razi told ‘The News on Sunday’ (TNS) in an interview.

“India has done significant work on infrastructure. We haven’t had a solid sports policy since Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) was constituted in 1962,” Razi pointed out.

“Even our authorities have poor knowledge about sports. They can’t differentiate between sports policy and sports administrative laws, considering a clerical draft of 2005 the national sports policy. Its basic aim seems to control national sports federations only,” Razi said.

“The incompetent DGs of PSB enjoy the facilities associated with their designations. India is aiming at Olympic gold in badminton men’s singles. Eight Indian shuttlers are in the top fifty in the BWF men’s singles rankings.

“China trails India in the frame with seven players in the top fifty. Japan and Denmark have five shuttlers each, Indonesia has four, Malaysia and Korea have two and one player, respectively, in the same frame. Now one can imagine how fast India is moving towards Olympic gold in badminton,” Razi said.

“To win Olympic gold, Badminton India has taken on board Indonesia’s Flandy Limpele (Athens Olympics bronze medallist doubles player), South Korea’s Kim Ji Hyun, an Olympian and Asian Games gold medalist, and Park Tae Sang, an Olympian who is working with national coach Pullela Gopichand. These coaches have been deputed to ease the load on Pullela Gopichand, head coach and former international,” he said.

“India’s PV Sindhu finished with a silver medal in women’s singles at Rio Olympics 2016. She later emerged as the world champion at Basel, Switzerland, in 2019. This was an amazing feat from India,” he said.

“The most important thing is Sindhu is earning $8.5 million per year. She is the highest-paid female athlete in Forbes list in 2019. She has been presented with Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award for her sports achievements, and Padma Shri,” he added.

“Pakistan’s national champion Mahoor Shehzad is currently ranked 133rd in the world. India’s 13 girls are ahead of Mahoor,” he said. “There are so many reasons why we are so poor in the discipline. But the main reason is that Pakistan Badminton Federation (PBF) has failed to deliver. It has no development plan which is its main responsibility as the badminton governing body,” he said.

“Mahoor has managed to survive in international circuit because of the support of her father who financially backs his talented daughter. Where is the government and PBF? How long will she keep backing herself and hoisting national flag on foreign soil without the support of the state and the federation?” Razi questioned.

“The PBF is sleeping and running a fake culture by holding one senior and junior championship in a year. It has no strict policy to obstruct the ways of over-age players who play at junior level and deprive the genuine kids from showcasing their talent at the same level. The PBF is spoiling top talent due to no adequate training structure,” Razi said.

“In the last national event our top player Irfan Bhatti badly injured himself due to old rubber mat he was playing on. Eight national players in the men’ssingles category are playing wearing knee-caps which means their knees are not supporting them for extensive badminton activities. Who is responsible for this?” Razi said.

“We cannot compare Pakistan with India until we start looking after our shuttlers who are our national assets,” he said.

“India has been holding national senior badminton championships with a prize money amounting to Rs10 million since 2017. In Pakistan the amount on offer is a few hundred thousand,” he said.

“India is investing in school sports. In Pakistan sports teachers have no significant role given to them by the authorities. Their task is just to maintain discipline in schools with a whistle, holding assembly in the morning and arranging PT shows for entertainment of the chief guest at the annual sports festival. How can you improve sports in the country in such conditions,” Razi questioned.

“In India all those who sponsor sports get hundred percent tax exemption under state laws. On the other hand, we have big issues at that level,” he pointed out.

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Badminton needs investment