A million dollar shot in the arm for badminton
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The confidence of cricket's Indian Premier League is making other sports in the country recalibrate their ambitions, and badminton's now piggybacking on the big-money ride seen in Indian sports. On Saturday, the Badminton Association of India announced the Indian Badminton League, the richest prize money tournament in the world - offering prize money of $1 million (approx 5.5 cr) for the 6-city based franchise teams. The winning franchise will take home 3.5 crore, a figure that dwarfs almost every other prize money offered on the circuit.
The promoters are riding on the sport's positive buzz after Saina Nehwal brought home a bronze medal from the Olympics this summer, as well as other happy headlines made by the likes of Jwala Gutta, V Diju, Ashwini Ponappa, P Kashyap and Sourabh Verma over the last two years, ever since the Commonwealth Games beamed in a pair of gold medals into Indian homes. The Lucknow-based BAI has also managed to rope in national coach P Gopichand, and have promised that Prakash Padukone will come on board, ensuring that all of India's talent nurseries come under the cash-rich umbrella.
On the big-announcement day, the promoters were flashing big-money, throwing figures in crores at a country, they believe is ready to lap up badminton's commercial extravaganza. The Malaysians faxed in their confirmations, the Europeans are said to have agreed, and Indonesian affirmations are on the way, BAI declared. The Chinese have been contacted, but a response is awaited.
Camping in each of the six cities for 2 days, the league will be held in the Sudirman Cup format - five matches, 11 players in a franchise, including 1 icon player, 4 foreign names and 1 youngster over a maximum of 140 matches (28 ties). The BWF has granted IBL a three-week window in 2013 from June 24 - July 11.
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