BADMINTON may lose its identity and authenticity in adopting the use of synthetic feather shuttlecocks.
This is the fear of several former internationals and coaches after the Badminton World Federation (BWF) announced on Monday that it will begin using synthetic shuttlecocks next year for long-term sustainability.
Rashid Sidek, a name synonymous with Malaysian badminton, is not very keen with the idea.
When contacted by Timesport, the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games bronze medallist, said: “I really don’t know how to feel about this. Personally, I feel it will only suit the style of certain players, like those who are more on the attack.
“I do not think the synthetic shuttlecocks will suit players who play more strokes.
“My biggest fear, however, is the identity of the sport.
“All our lives we’ve played badminton, and for all our lives it has only been goose feather shuttlecocks. What happens now?”
According to Rashid, who is also the head coach of Sports Affairs Badminton Academy, he has not heard any good review from the testing of the synthetic shuttlecocks in 2018.
“I’ve not tested it but I have heard it from players who have. Yes, you don’t use as many shuttlecocks in a match but the flight of the synthetic shuttlecocks is way faster. I just don’t feel it’s right,” added the 52-year-old, who was also part of Malaysia’s Thomas Cup winning squad in 1992.
Another former international, Joanne Quay, now the BAM acting head of development, does not see the point why synthetic shuttlecocks should replace the existing ones.
“We play and watch badminton because it gives people the intense feeling. The flight of a feather shuttlecock is so much better than a synthetic one.
“Changing it now would give the sport a whole new perspective. It’s similar to outdoor badminton.
“Try changing a tennis ball to a synthetic or plastic ball, and see what people like Roger Federer have got to say,” Joanne quipped.
In the statement released by BWF on Monday, it is understood that the testing of synthetic feather shuttlecocks took place in three International Challenges in 2018.
Apparently, the feedback indicated that the Yonex synthetic shuttlecock was more durable and economical compared to a traditional natural feathered one, whilst at the same time providing a similar flight and performance.
Normally more than 24 traditional shuttlecocks are used in a single match during a tournament.
During the various tests, it was discovered that shuttlecock usage could be reduced by up to 25 per cent, providing a significant environmental and economic edge for badminton going forward.
The BWF have now granted approval for synthetic shuttlecocks to be used in an official capacity at any international BWF-sanctioned tournaments from the beginning of next year.
It will be up to the various tournament hosts in cooperation with the brands (which have the approved synthetic shuttlecocks) to use them for tournaments.