Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: Badminton ace Prakash Padukone expressed his concern over the lack of participation of top players in the domestic tournaments. In a chat with The Hindu here, Padukone said, “it has become a sort of trend and worrying one at that, that top players choose to skip one tournament or the other, either due to injury or some other reasons.”

While conceding the possibility of a genuine reason, Padukone said, “I do admit there are cases where they have genuine reasons. For instance, Anup Sridhar, twisted his ankle again right in front of our eyes, but what I feel is when they have a few domestic tournaments, they should play as many as possible.”

Padukone said that he was not citing the example of Tata Open championship which gets underway in Mumbai on Sunday, where Sridhar and Saina Nehwal are unlikely to play.

Overall picture

“I am looking at the overall picture. Previously we had players missing major domestic tournaments. What I am worried about is the adverse impact it might have on younger players and sponsors, who might fight shy of backing events if all big names are not there.”

Padukone said that in his era, players irrespective of the field and stature of the event tried to play as many domestic tournaments as possible. “We tried our best to play as many domestic tournaments as possible. We gained a lot in the process and one cannot say that only by playing abroad one can get better.”

Asked whether the Badminton Association of India should make it mandatory for all top players to take part in major tournaments, Padukone said, “I don’t say that the BAI should force them to play, but impress upon them on the need to play more at home. We should ensure a player-friendly calendar for that.”

Padukone said that with Tata being the sponsor of his academy, Tata Open was being held at Mumbai. “I am happy with the kind of response we had from everyone concerned, including the media. All surely long to see some quality to events at Mumbai.”

Masters event

Padukone also said that he was toying with the idea of conducting a Masters event, which includes top 16 Indian players to be conducted on round-robin in the preliminary phase and later on knock-out. “If we can get a right sponsor and offer good prize money, we can make it a unique event, first of its kind.”

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