Can India Become the Next Badminton Powerhouse?

Can India Become the Next Badminton Powerhouse?

When talking about sports in India, one would only come to mind – and that’s cricket. However, even if we all know India as a cricket nation, more and more locals are showing interest in other sports.

Beyond the cricket fields, one of the sports that Indians are also now enjoying more is Badminton. Pledge Sports reports that it’s the second most popularly played sport in India now, next to cricket. It’s now a sport that’s also growing in terms of viewership.

Now, the sport’s appeal seems to lie in its accessibility and simplicity. True enough, it would be easy to turn a lot of available space into a badminton court.

But how did the sport pique the interest of many locals? What is the country’s potential to become the next badminton powerhouse? We’ll have a look at all that in this article. 

Indian Badminton’s Historical Triumphs and Significant Events

Badminton found its roots in India during colonial times. It was introduced by the British colonizers in the mid-1800s. At first, it was a sport that was mainly played by the elite as they were mostly able to enjoy them in the regal settings of private clubs.

So, its initial exclusivity was mainly attributed to the sport’s portrayal as a sophisticated pastime that’s reserved for the aristocracy. However, the sport soon permeated all societal strata.

The game’s democratization reached a turning point with Prakash Padukone’s historic win at the All-England Championship in 1980.

His victory broke the perception of badminton as an exclusive pursuit. So, the sport was then brought into the mainstream. Padukone’s success simply inspired a new generation and somehow demystified Badminton.

More and more people have started playing the sport outside private clubs. They started to see that most spaces could accommodate the sport’s gameplay. Initiatives to make the sport more accessible also made more badminton courts available to the masses.If these efforts continue, there’s a plausible chance that badminton could carve a niche for itself alongside cricket. Additionally, there could be a growing interest in online badminton betting that could also further the popularity of this sport.

There are also players like Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu who have exemplified the democratization of badminton. They showcase how the sport has become a means of social mobility, providing opportunities for talent to flourish regardless of societal standing.

Current Landscape of Badminton in India

Today, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) is overlooking any official Badminton activities in the country. They have been around since 1934 and have been responsible for national-level leagues in the country since 1936.

Some of the known tournaments BAI is responsible for are the India Open, Hyderabad Open, Odisha Open, and the Premier Badminton League (PBL).

Without a doubt, the PBL has played a crucial role in elevating the sport’s status in India. Its first-ever season happened in 2016. But even before this, BAI already had the Indian Badminton League. So, it’s the same tournament that was only renamed.

The most recent season of the PBL took place in 2020, and it was the 5th edition of the tournament.

However, since then, the tournament hasn’t returned yet. It was supposed to come back in 2021 but like with many sports, it had to be postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of now, there’s no update yet if the PBL will be returning any time soon. 

Will Badminton Become More Popular in India? 

While badminton has firmly established its presence in India’s sports narrative, a lingering question remains: Can it rival the overwhelming popularity of cricket or kabaddi?

Well, encouragingly, the rising viewership and increased grassroots participation suggest a positive trajectory. In addition, it has been announced that India will be hosting the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) World Championship in 2026.

The announcement of India hosting the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) World Championship in 2026 is surely a significant milestone. Such prestigious events on home soil not only boost the sport’s visibility but also inspire aspiring players nationwide.

Aside from the professional field, initiatives like school-level tournaments, training programs, and community engagement can further solidify the sport’s status.

Conclusion: What Lies Ahead 

While cricket’s colossal popularity may remain unparalleled, badminton’s growing influence suggests a future where it can coexist as a formidable force in India’s sports arena. There have been reports that the country’s demand for badminton equipment is growing 15-20% each year.

That alone indicates a thriving market in the country. That said, we can only expect that this sport will continue to gain more traction in India. So, the chance of the country becoming the next badminton powerhouse isn’t far-fetched.

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