Badminton: 24 players in World's Top 50 - What India could learn from Denmark
Denmark a country with just a population of 5.8 million has 24 badminton players in the world top 50, equal to India - a country with 1.3 billion.
The Badminton World Federation has released its latest World Ranking list on March 31. If one scans the five categories - Men's Singles, Women's Singles, Men's Double's, Women's Doubles, and Mixed Doubles - one would find a total of 24 players fitting in the categories within World no. 50 rankings.
In the men's singles category, the top-ranked players are Kidambi Srikanth (14), B Sai Praneeth (15), Lakshya Sen (23), Sameer Verma (27), Prannoy H.S. (30), P Kashyap (31), Sourabh Verman (34).
Women's singles: PV Sindhu (7), Saina Nehwal (19, a one-spot jump).
Men's doubles: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy & Chirag Shetty (10), Manu Atri & Summeth Reddy (35), MR Arjun & Dhruv Kapila (46), MR Arjun & Ramchandran Shlok (49).
Women's doubles: Ashwini Ponnappa & Sikki Reddy (25), Poorvisha Ram & Meghana Jakkampudi (43), Pooja Dandu & Sanjana Santosh (44).
Mixed doubles: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy & Ashwini Ponnappa (20), Pranaav Chopra & Sikki Reddy (33), MR Arjun & Maneesha K (49).
While the number of Indian players ranking within the top 50 is quite impressive now that India is reckoned one of the best teams in the world. However, going by the same numbers, Denmark also has 24 players on the same list. Denmark, a Nordic country in northern Europe that houses a population of just 5.8 million has been smashing the badminton circuit for decades. Whereas, India has a population of 1.3 billion.
In badminton, Asian teams and players dominate, but the only European country that is punching way above its weight in Denmark. How come Denmark is doing such a remarkable job of fostering a badminton revolution?
The club system is the artery of Denmark's badminton. There are over 600 clubs in Denmark. It is quite unique compared to the rest of the world. Players from the age of 5 to 65 play regularly at their own level in these clubs, who face stiff competition. Players with goog potential are tapped into the elite programs.
Denmark has a long line of successful badminton players, from Morten Frost Hansen to Peter Gade and Jan Ø. Jørgensen, but since becoming the first European player ever to win the Junior World Championship title in 2010, Viktor Axelsen, the presently world no.2 men's singles player, has taken the badminton world by storm. The present generation of players has always had someone to look up to chasing their badminton dreams.
Denmark continues to strive like David as the sole European heavyweight against Goliath of the Asian powerhouses - China, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea. The clubs in Denmark are led by volunteers and they do not get paid but the clubs source for their own revenue to keep it going organising leagues for adult and youth players. The Badminton Association of Denmark (BAD) also has performance centres and four age-group squads (Under-13, Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19). Training manuals are distributed to clubs so that proper techniques in badminton are used and an introduction of regional and national leagues have also kept interest in the sport at different levels alive.
India, on the other hand, is a growing powerhouse of badminton. Despite having a strong contingent, we are yet to reach the dominant stage like Denmark, which has eight medals in the Olympics compared to India's two medals won by Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. However, India has long been eluded by the success of men's badminton following the reigns of Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand.
Right now, only Hyderabad could be categorised as the concentration centre of Indian badminton. Similar culture has to be developed around the entire country, which could be emulated from Denmark.
Speaking to The Bridge in an earlier interview, India's badminton legend Prakash Padukone had said pointed out that the Badminton Association of India still has a lot of potentials to work upon that can further yield major success for India. "I only wish that the National Federation can be a little more active and take some right decisions so that the momentum is maintained and not lost. I think in the last one or two years, there has been a little lull in the activities and the initiatives of the association. The Badminton Association of India (BAI) needs to plan and have a vision for the future because there's a lot of talent that needs to be channelised in the right way."