G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponappa, who are all set to get together to start the second innings of their women’s doubles partnership, feel that the doubles badminton players are given ‘step-motherly’ treatment in the country.
Base prices of both Jwala and Ashwini, who were among the icon players, were reduced from $50,000 to $25,000 during last month’s auction of the inaugural Indian Badminton League (IBL), which had earlier dropped the women’s doubles event from its format.
The duo cried foul and the Badminton Association of India (BAI) stepped in to assure that the two would be paid the amount promised earlier.
Speaking in the run-up to the inaugural IBL, Jwala, who is known for her outspokenness, made her point without naming any organisation or the league. “There is a need to change our attitude towards doubles (players). It has changed to some extent after Ashwini and I won the Commonwealth Games gold medal. But it needs to change further.”
Jwala said India should groom more doubles shuttlers to maximize its potential on the elite stage. “Doubles players should be taken seriously and we need more doubles specialists.”
Ashwini also echoed Jwala’s sentiments.
“Doubles players should be pushed more. They are doing well. So talent should be identified and groomed properly. We are taking tiny steps and these should be recognised. Instead of being treated step-motherly, doubles players should be motivated,” said the 23-year-old Ashwini.
Jwala cited an example to show how doubles players were not enjoying the same status as singles shuttlers. “After we won the medals in such important tournaments, we did not get much attention. We struggled to get sponsors. Even today, it is difficult for a doubles player to get a sponsor.”
After the London Olympics, Jwala went on a sabbatical and Ashwini found a new partner in 22-year-old Pradnya Gadre, who was bought by Hyderabad Hotshots for a whopping $46,000 after starting with a base price of $10,000 in the IBL auction.
Talks are on
Initially, they had some good results, but the new pair could not settle down which resulted in Ashwini exploring her options. Ashwini stopped short of confirming her reunion with the 29-year-old Jwala.
“Talks are on with Jwala and it will be good to get back. But it is not the right time to say anything more on this. But, it is likely to be Jwala,” said Ashwini.
Since two important assignments — the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games — are coming up next year, it will be interesting to see whether the two experienced players will be able to find their rapport once again and win laurels for India at the highest level.