Badminton eyes passage to India

Denmark’s list of sporting millionaires in five years’ time could very well include Caroline Woznaicki, Christian Eriksen, Thorbjørn Olesen and … Tine Baun?

Yes, you heard right. Denmark’s top female badminton player, who is currently ranked #7 in the world, could potentially be raking it in thanks to an ambitious badminton project taking place in India at the moment.

The Indian Badminton League (IBL), which is scheduled to launch in June, could shoot Denmark’s badminton players to wealth and fame. The league will consist of six teams, each with eleven doubles and singles players. 

Each team will be allowed to have four foreign players on its books, and the organisers are confident their record-setting prize funds will attract the world’s top players to the league. The potential earnings will far outstrip what Baun and her compatriots earn in Denmark.

In a country that favours cricket, organisers knew they had to take a different approach when promoting the sport. 

“It’s not seen as a glossy, sexy sport,” Ashish Chadha, the CEO of sports promotion company Sporty Solutionz, which conceived the IBL, told BBC News. Bollywood performances will entertain the supporters between games and the aim is to create a carnival type atmosphere at the games. Chadha said that he had even secured the South Korean pop star Psy, most famous for the mega hit ‘Gangnam Style’, to perform.

Badminton is quickly gaining popularity in India thanks to the success of home-grown players like Saina Nehwal, who won one of India’s six medals at the 2012 London Olympics and is currently ranked second in the women’s world rankings. 

Aside from Baun, the top Danish men’s, women’s and mixed doubles pairs, who are ranked #1, #3 and #4 respectively, will all be hopeful of an invitation from the league in the near future.