The 2020 Premier Badminton League (PBL) is not just a ‘good advertisement’ for the health of badminton in the country, but also a ‘fantastic platform’ for our junior shuttlers to gain vital experience. The youngsters get to rub shoulders with some of the world’s most experienced and top shuttlers. This helps them in raising their performance bar in the serious pursuit of smoothly graduating to the senior ranks.
The PBL, which is now into is sixth season, has a lot to offer to India's junior shuttlers.
It is important to understand that many of these junior shuttlers may not get the opportunity to feature in some of the matches, but there is no denying the fact that the league will be a big boon for the country’s junior players.
Former Indian men’s doubles player Uday Pawar was of the opinion that the PBL platform is a big learning curve for the country’s junior shuttlers. “Look, when you have world’s top players like Tai Tzu-Ying, Michelle Li, Beiwen Zhang and Lee Cheuk Yiu featuring in the PBL, you cannot expect India’s junior players to get an opportunity to play some of the PBL matches. But the biggest positive for the country’s junior players is that they are getting an opportunity to travel with these world’s top players and practising with them, which will surely take their game to the next level and are a big source of inspiration for them,"
Pawar believes that the experience that upcoming players will gain from the PBL stint will stand them in good stead for the future. To prove his point Pawar cited an example of how the PBL was an opportunity missed, in terms of engaging more juniors apart from being part of respective PBL franchise teams.
“The Pune 7 Aces team was training at my academy at Goregaon Sports Club, Mumbai for three days and one could witness the excitement among the 60-odd trainees watching the likes of world number 2 men’s doubles player Hendra Setiawan and world no. 10 men’s doubles player Chirag Shetty. You have a world champion like Hendra Setiawan for three days and no newspaper bothered to cover his training stint with the Pune team in Mumbai. I think the organisers of PBL missed out an opportunity to build hype and awareness about the PBL. Imagine somebody like Hendra Setiawan training in front of not 60-odd trainees but in the presence of 600 junior players of Mumbai,” he pointed out.
Ace Indian men’s singles player Kidambi Srikanth doesn't doubt on the benefits of the league .
“The PBL is a huge opportunity for our junior players as it will give us a fair understanding of about our next set of shuttlers.” said the former World No. 1.
The Guntur lad believes there is so much to learn for the Indian junior players, especially the doubles players given the PBL has some big doubles names.
“Our junior doubles players have plenty to gain playing alongside the likes of Hendra Setiawan and the South Korean duo of Ko SungHyun and Shin Baek Cheol. Lakshya Sen has had a phenomenal 2019 and has done well so far in this year’s PBL. Chennai Superstarz’s Dhruv Kapila and North Eastern Warriors’ Krishna Prasad are exciting doubles prospects. Dhruv Kapila played his part in the Chennai team getting the better of Bengaluru Raptors winning his men’s doubles tie which must do a world of good to his confidence,” he opined.
There was another line of thought that junior players could be engaged in creating rivalries among PBL teams. “India’s junior players will benefit from the PBL by just being part of a franchise irrespective of whether they get a chance to play. But our junior players can be optimised by generating a strong support base for PBL teams, which in turn, will create fierce rivalries, which is so important for the overall health of any league, let alone PBL,” said a former player on condition of anonymity.
The Sindhus, Sainas, Sai Praneeths and Srikanths have
been great servants of Indian badminton and one hopes that the PBL will pave
the way for our junior shuttlers to make it big on the international stage at
the senior level.