Special Correspondent

MUMBAI: Badminton is in the throes of change, pushed towards a new direction by the governing body, International Badminton Federation (IBF). As per Deputy President Punch Gunalan's gameplan, starting with the change of name from IBF to Badminton World Federation (BWF), one of the world's fastest sports is bracing for equipment change (synthetic shuttlecocks in place of goose feathers on cork) and format change (club league and multi-tier events).

Gunalan, speaking on the sidelines of the Indian international badminton championships, stressed that new measures are happening out of necessity.

Funding research

The world body is funding research for synthetic shuttlecocks because worldwide demand for goose feathers can't be met. "Badminton is the only sport using live things as part of equipment (goose feathers). Once our scientists come up with a synthetic shuttlecock made from any material, as long as it behaves like the one in use now, it will be easier to meet the demand."

Yonex, a leading supplier of badminton equipment, is also investing in research on shuttlecocks, informed Gunalan. Shuttlecocks in use now have a conical shape, with a rounded head of cork, topped by 16 overlapping goose feathers. The feather shuttles are brittle and have to be replaced frequently. Experiments with plastic, nylon feathers and rubber heads have not resulted in product with same properties as goose ones.

Format change

The format change is being borrowed from world tennis and is on lines of introducing a multi-level tournament structure similar to the one implemented by Association of Tennis Professionals. Gunalan said: "BWF is also planning a 16-nation World League between clubs, competitions on a home/away basis and organised by private companies. Players from other countries can be bought or sold, like football club transfers."

In the Indian context, these changes pushed downwards by the BWF will mean change of name from Badminton Federation of India to Badminton India, restriction of terms of office-bearers to a maximum of eight years. "Our new constitution says we are only allowed two terms in whatever office we hold." The proposed club league and buying and selling of players will also make an impact on bringing attention and money into the game.

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