The All India Sub-Junior Ranking Badminton Tournament 2013 conducted by the Badminton Association of India ended in Durgapur of west Bengal yesterday. The tournament began on 22nd July at the Sidhu Kanu Indoor Stadium of Durgapur and was inaugurated by Pullela Gopichand, the second Indian to win the prestigious All England Open Badminton Championship in 2001.
At a time when the Indian badminton bosses are busy basking in the luster of the Indian Badminton League (IBL), it has been an arduous struggle for over 1000 shuttlers, in the age group between 13 and 15, who have congregated for the national ranking sub-junior badminton tournament in Durgapur.
In the Boys and Girls “Under 15” there was no upset. Top seeded Siril Varma A.S.S from Andhra Pradesh defeated second seeded Arintap Dasgupta from West Bengal, 21-17, 21-14 to win the Boys Singles “Under 15” title. In the Girls section, top seeded Kanika Kanwal of Delhi defeated second seeded Ashmita Chaliha of Assam 21-12, 21-11 to win the Girls Singles “Under 15” title.
In both the Boys and Girls “Under 13”, top seeded players couldn’t manage to reach the final. Third seeded Angad Borchetia of Assam won the “Under 13” Boys Singles by defeating second seeded Akash Yadav of Delhi 21-19, 13-21, 21-18. While Second seeded Akshita A. of Andhra Pradesh defeated Shivani Pathi of Karnataka in straight sets 21-18, 21-14 to win the “Under 13” Girls singles title.
In the Boys “Under 15” doubles, second seeded Siril Varma from Andhra Pradesh and Lakshya Sen from Uttar Pradesh defeated eighth seeded Arintap Dasgupta from West Bengal and Kartikey Gulshan Kumar from Delhi 21-16, 21-10, to lift the title.
In the Girls “Under 15” doubles second seeded Ashmita Chaliha of Assam and Kanika Kanwal of Delhi defeated top seeded Akshita Bhandari of Uttar Pradesh and Shreya Bose of Kerala 21-16, 15-21, 21-9 in a tough three setter.
In the Boys “Under 13” doubles, top seeded Tukum Laa from Arunachal Pradesh and Yash Raikwar from Madhya Pradesh defeated sixth seeded Chayanit Joshi and Dhruv Rawat from Uttar Pradesh 21-9, 21-14.
In the Girls “Under 13” doubles, top seeded Unnati Bisht and Himanshi Rawat from Uttar Pradesh defeated Maini Boruah and Chimran Kalita from Assam 21-16, 21-19 to win the title.
Hosting such huge tournament at the Sidhu Kanu Indoor Stadium of Durgapur may have been a learning experience for the organizers, but the pathetic situation through which the players had to go is even unimaginable. For the first time in Indian badminton’s history, matches started at 9 am and went on till 4.30 am the next day! Without an option, the players and their families had turned the stadium into a bedroom and allowing mosquitoes to have a free run.
The Sidhu Kanu Dahour Indoor Stadium in Durgapur reportedly has a leaky roof forcing the matches to stop when it rains. Compounding the problems is the unscheduled load shedding which has thrown the schedule out of gear. All the more the number of courts available for play is only 5, while hosting such a huge tournament needs at least 10 courts.
A staggering 260 matches were played on the first day of the three-day qualifiers, with umpires and referees being on duty for more than 19 hours. There was no change in the script on Tuesday, when 230 matches were scheduled.
While waiting for their matches late at night, some of the players fell asleep and had to be woken up by their parents or coaches after the announcement of their matches.
Beyond the IBL, the truth of Indian badminton is stark, hard and bitter. But who is there to listen to the ordeal of the players?
Durgapur mayor, Mr. Apurba Mukherjee present at the prize giving ceremony thanked everyone for being patient enough to bear the shortcomings and allow the tournament end on a happy note.