IBL can usher in a new set of followers for the game

There is good news for sports enthusiasts who experience withdrawal symptoms after the close of the Indian Premiere League (IPL) season: they now have another local team to root for. Banga Beats, Bangalore’s very own league of champions in the Indian Badminton League (IBL), were introduced at a ceremony here on Tuesday.

Dream team?

Real estate consultant group BOP owns the team, which has an impressive line-up of players, including Commonwealth Games bronze medallist P. Kashyap — the icon player — along with Hu Yun, Tai Tze Ying, Carolina Marin, Carsten Morgensen, Arvind Bhat, Akshay Diwalkar, Aparna Balan, Aditya Prakash and J. Meghana.

If there is someone who appears to have absolute conviction in this team, it is its chief coach U. Vimal Kumar, who also believes that the IBL will usher in a new set of followers for the game. “IBL can lead parents to get their children into the game. It will definitely give a boost to the game, though the standards will not go up,” he said, during the media interaction.

Icon player

Asked why Bangalore girl Ashwini Ponnappa was not chosen as the icon player for the local team, he explained: “There were six icon players to choose from and Jwala Gutta and Ashwini’s names came up for bidding in the end. By then, we had already got Mr. Kashyap on board and could not bid again.”

He said a tournament like this would be the perfect opportunity for the younger players to play alongside/against the seniors.

Mr. Kashyap agreed. “I think that feeling (of playing against more experienced players) is a little [assuaged] as we have (Carsten) Mogensen in the team. And we have Hu Yun who is very experienced. I am really happy that we have a balanced team.”

Full house?

So will IBL ensure full house for the matches? Karan Chaudhri, general manager, marketing, BOP, said concessional tickets for school and college students were a possibility. “As a franchise, we are also planning to bundle up tickets with merchandise sales.”

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