“Badminton players never age; they become Masters”. This indomitable spirit of a player gives birth to the Hyderabad Masters Badminton League (HMBL), an innovative new pan India format of badminton for players who have crossed 35 years of age.
The HMBL will be replete with star players from across India who have represented the country at international level, or their states but will even give opportunities for some talented club level players.
Eight teams of minimum 18 players each (including coach/manager), owned by corporates or eminent badminton lovers in a franchise model, will participate in a three-day league-cum-knockout doubles tournament which is scheduled to be held in the Kotla Vijay Bhaskar Reddy Indoor Stadium, Hyderabad from 21st to 23rd September 2018.
Here are the details of the player auction which happened yesterday:
Eight team owners from all over India, each armed with a kitty of 500,000 points, converged on the country club (Begumpet) Hyderabad for the much-awaited Players auction of the prestigious HMBL.
The bidding list broke all records, with more than 80 women and 275 men who offered themselves for auction for the tournament to be held at the Kotla Vijay Bhaskar Reddy Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad.
The auction started precisely at 10am with HMBL Treasurer and Former International Nirmala Kotnis functioning as auctioneer. Opening bids for all players, except those who were in the preselected list, were pegged at 10,000 points with a cap of 100,000 points. Whenever the cap was reached, and multiple teams had bid for the same player, there was either a coin toss in case of two bidders or a draw of lots, in case of three or more bidders to decide the winning bid.
Top players were hotly contested for by the franchises with as many as eight players being for maximum cap value of 100,000 points. Despite the competitive nature of the franchises, the auction was conducted smoothly and completed in time for lunch.
After lunch, Shri Ganguly Prasad, Dronacharya Awardee, picked the draw of lots to decide the grouping of players.
Group A will constitute of BBA Titans, Hyderabad Nawabs, Mumbai Masters and Himalayan Rangers. Group B will be Flying Gravity, Smash Squad, Hyderabad Smashers and Enthu Shuttlers.
All teams will play against all other teams in their respective group in the round robin stage. Top 2 teams of each group will play crisscross semifinals in the best of 7 encounters.
Gayness Jeswal, who won the best player award in the recently conducted Masters League in Visakhapatnam, and the owner of team Smash Squad, Delhi, commented, “I have been in circuit regularly, but this is my first time as a team owner. I must say, I am very impressed by the professionalism shown by the organising committee, and I think all teams are quite evenly matched. I expect a cracker of a tournament, and I am sure it will be the best league in its class.”
Suzanne Venglet, CO-owner of Team Flying Gravity also commented, “The auction was conducted extremely smooth, and all team owners were very cordial and cooperative”.
Shirish Nadkarni who is the president of the organising committee of HMBL & also the Co-Owner of Team Mumbai Blasters said, “Only a true badminton lover can understand this sentiment, and appreciate how hard an ageing Shuttler works to keep his errant body still in a condition to remain competitive in a tournament environment.
The goal of HMBL is to set benchmarks for other leagues to follow. The efficacy of our meticulous planning and organisational abilities has already been seen at the player auctions, and will be on show when the curtain goes up on the HMBL on 20th September.”