Abu Dhabi: One of India’s top badminton players feels the game is all set to transform itself for the better, insisting the upcoming $1 million (Dh3.67 million) Indian Badminton League (IBL) will act as the catalyst in this regard.
Valiyaveetil Diju, who in partnership with Jwala Gutta is the reigning national mixed-doubles champion, is in Abu Dhabi to take part in the 36th ISC Open championship and said India has a bright future in the game.
“With Saina Nehwal already creating waves and a string of players battling for top positions, India is already a force to be reckoned with. This will only get better when the inaugural IBL gets going,” said the 32-year-old.
“The IBL has been a real positive for the badminton world. The IPL-style championship will see six to eight franchise-based teams who will buy international and Indian players through an auction and then field them in a home-and-away team competition,” Diju added.
The IBL is scheduled to be held from June 24-July 11.
“With most of the world’s top 50-ranked players and Indians in action, fans of the game will be in for a treat and youngsters can gain a lot of experience. Plus the money is good, both prize money as well as base prices for individual players,” he said.
Diju, who won the Commonwealth Games bronze medal with Gutta in 2006, will play in the men’s doubles and the mixed doubles at the ISC Open. The Indian ace, who played in an exhibition match in Dubai before coming here, admitted that despite the huge interest in the game in the UAE and the Gulf region, a lack of proper coaching is an issue.
“There is a huge following for the game and many parents do encourage their kids to play badminton. But many of the youngsters lack the basics and this is important. Even I started to improve tremendously once I started getting coaching from Indonesian coaches. Learning the correct technique is very important,” Diju said.
“Clubs, associations and schools should try and get the services of top coaches and this will help boost the game in a major way,” he said, adding that there were ample employment opportunities and rewards for becoming a professional player.
Admitting his liking for the doubles format only, Diju said, “Perhaps I became a doubles player as I enjoyed more success in this category. I always play the aggressive and attacking role, while my partner plays the defensive role.”
Diju, whose wife is an Ayurvedic doctor, is here at the invitation of the India Social Centre and was welcome by ISC President Thomas John.