Mangaluru, Sep 12,2017: Badminton Association of India (BAI), Sept 11, Monday announced an annual lifetime achievement award to the greats of the game who have made rich contributions to the cause of the sport in India with former world number one Prakash Padukone the first recipient of this maiden initiative. Prakash Padukone, the legendary player is the only Indian male player to reach World No 1 ranking and will receive a cash award of Rs 10 lakh and a citation.
President of BAI Himanta Biswa Sarma making this announcement on the sidelines of Manorama BWF World Senior Championships at Kochi said, "This is for the first time that BAI has come up with such an award as it is time we recognize immense contribution of these stalwarts towards growth of badminton in India. And no other name would have been apt but Prakash to receive the first award. A grand ceremony will be organized in Delhi soon to felicitate him," Sarma said.
It was also announced that there will be significant rise in the prize money of the senior national championships and close to Rs 1 crore will be doled out to players from this year’s senior nationals.
"We will be increasing the prize money close to Rs 1 crore from this year and the players will be getting prize money from the pre-quarters stage," Sarma announced.
He also confirmed participation of top players including players including P V Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth who will be taking part in the upcoming national championships in Nagpur from November 1. The players have been consulted and assured of international standard playing conditions, which was a key concern from the players.
"We want to transform national championship into a brand. We already have a brand in PBL and we want our premier domestic tournament also to become a huge hit amongst the fans. It has been a long time that the fans have seen high-profile clashes in the national circuit and we hope to transform the National Championship from this year," he said. Their presence will not only be spectacular for fans but will also help in attracting broadcasters in turn driving sponsorships for the tournament in the domestic sector, Sarma noted.
To create a new pool of champions, BAI has decided to award scholarships to junior players annually and is working in full swing along with various state governments to set up the five new regional academies in east, west, north, south and north-east of India. "Every year we want to throw in new champions on the circuit and the academy and the scholarship and dedicated training will help us in that endeavour. The new academies will be solely owned by BAI and we are already in advanced talks with different states to identify the right partners,"