Badminton fans have something to rejoice about as an IPL-style league took off in Pune which ironically is the birthplace of the sport. The Amanora Maharashtra Badminton League will have six teams, who bid from among 79 players.
The amount of money being pumped into this league cannot be compared to cricket but is quite a lot going by badminton standards. The maximum bid of a whopping Rs 81,000 atttracted by doubles player Jishnu Sanyal. Jishnu attracted the bid from Fabulous Falcons, owned by Jain Irrigation, Jalgaon.
The league will be held only on Saturdays and Sundays, and will begin on May 7 at WIE Sports Complex, Pune. It’s the brainchild of the Haveli Taluka Badminton Association, and is supported by the associations of Thane and Pune, under the aegis of the state association.
Pune’s national champion Aditi Mutatkar and Arundhati Pantwane shared the highest bid for the women — Rs 55,000 each.
National champ Mutatkar was amazed when told she had won a bid for Rs 55,000. “It’s a big surprise,” she said. “I never thought this would happen during my career. It will have huge significance. It can attract juniors. This shows that people are coming forward to support badminton. The money might go up the next year, and perhaps this will even evolve into a national league.”
Aditi was bought by Sensational Skylarks (Builders Combine and Radiant Sports Management, Pune), while Arundhati was picked up by Inspiring Eagles (Pratham Motors, Pune).
Each team had a maximum amount of Rs 2.5 lakh to spend. Players were divided into ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ categories, depending on their level of performance. The base price for ‘A’ category was Rs 30,000 for ‘B’ category Rs 25,000 and for ‘C’ category Rs 15,000.
Uday Sane, secretary of the organising committee and a respected international umpire, said the money spent by teams had surprised him. “The base price started at Rs 30,000 and then shot up. That a badminton player will make Rs 81,000 for three weekends is great news.”
Sane was thrilled that most owners were from outside the fraternity, but had done their homework on the players. “They’re not from a badminton background at all. We had one owner from a rural place – Sangli. They want to have exhibition matches over there. The value for badminton is growing up.”
Six celebrity Marathi actresses have been roped in as brand ambassadors: Bhargavi Chirmule, Sonali Khare, Kranti Redkar, Kadambari Kadam and Saee Tamhankar.
Those responsible for the league are Aniruddha Deshpande, chairman of the organising committee (MBL), Pradeep Gandhe, president of MBA, Uday Sane, secretary of the organising committee and Avinash Jadhav, vice- president, Haveli Taluka Badminton Association.
Teams and main players:
Daring Doves: Ehsan Naqvi, Trupti Murgunde, Sanyogita Ghorpade
Fabulous Falcons: Jishnu Sanyal, Sayali Gokhale
Flamboyant Flamingos: Ajay Jayaram, Neha Pandit
Gorgeous Gannets: Akshay Dewalkar, Gauri Ghate
Inspiring Eagles: Anand Pawar, Arundhati Pantwane, Prajakta Sawant
Sensational Skylarks: Aditi Mutatkar, Padnya Gadre, Ameya Joshi