LETTERS The recent announcement by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) that synthetic shuttles would be used in badminton tournaments starting next year is welcome news.
Badminton has long been hampered by the high price of goose feather-based shuttles. Despite efforts decades ago to create synthetic shuttles, they did not meet the standard and were confined to training children.
Now with the advent of new technology, synthetic shuttles can be mass-produced, making them affordable. The synthetic shuttle will enable badminton to become more popular and encourage more nations to take up the sport.
At present, badminton is dominated by Malaysia, China, Denmark, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, India, Thailand, Taiwan and Britain, and a few other countries at a lower level.
Even the International Olympic Council has warned BWF that badminton has to be more competitive if it were to continue as a medal sport in the Olympics with more countries playing. It should not be confined to an elite few that continue to win Thomas, Uber and Sudirman Cups, as well as the All England tournament.
The victory of Denmark and Japan in the Thomas Cup competitions and the astonishing feats of P.V. Sindhu and Carolina Marin of Spain augur well for badminton.
The synthetic shuttle is a major innovation to help BWF spread the sport to new countries.
Additionally, BWF can consider other ways to make badminton a global sport.
Promote badminton in highly populated cities, where there is a lack of space for outdoor sports or recreation.
BWF can request badminton powers to hold friendly matches with other nations to popularise and assess standards, just like in football.
There is a need for an international badminton academy to increase the standard in non-badminton-playing countries.
Selecting players worldwide and providing excellent training will raise the standard.
Many countries do not have the resources to provide quality training and coaching. There could be a Dave Freeman (United States world champion in the 1940s and 1950s) or a Carolina Marin (present women’s world champion from Spain) waiting to be discovered.
Any country can produce world beaters. BWF needs to help out in this aspect.
Give more prominence to women’s badminton and the Uber Cup, which is over-shadowed by the Thomas Cup.
The Uber Cup need not be played concurrently with the Thomas Cup, but can be held a month before or after.
BWF needs to find sponsors to allow the Thomas and Uber Cup matches to be viewed free and not only from cable television as it restricts the volume of spectators.
It needs to ask major TV channels such as CNN, Al Jazeera and BBC to publicise the results of major badminton tournaments. Now, none of the major TV channel has news about sports such as badminton or squash. This has to change.
The scoring system, too, can be changed to enable badminton to be more entertaining and competitive such as restricting the match to two sets (total 42 points) and allowing the player who scores the most points to win.
This will ensure that the players do not go for the rubber set, which prolongs the match.
This could find favour with sponsors and make the sport more interesting. Players will fight for every point and this could result in long rallies that mesmerise the spectators.
SUNGAI BULOH, SELANGOR
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times