VIJAYAWADA:With star players like World No 3 Saina Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap and Ajay Jayaram giving the 79th National Badminton Championship — being held in Vijayawada after 25 years — a miss, a disappointed and furious Andhra Pradesh Badminton Association (APBA) on Sunday threatened to drag them all to court.
“These players should not be given any government assistance, awards or cash incentives. Their foreign tours should also be stopped. It’s time Badminton Association of India (BAI) and the Government of India took strong action against them,” demanded APBA secretary K Ch Punnaiah Choudhary, who is also secretary (events) of BAI.
Stating that Saina and co are ‘setting a bad trend’, he wondered why they couldn’t play in the nationals when a Sachin or Sharath Kamal (table tennis) could. “How do you expect young players to be encouraged? Even the crowd is disappointed that top players are not turning up,” he said.
Although it is mandatory to play in the nationals, some players participate in team events but skip open events.
“We will be incurring a loss of Rs 50 lakh as top players will not be taking part. This is not fair as we are answerable to our sponsors. I will take up this matter with the BAI at the next general body meeting and insist on making participation compulsory,” Punnaiah added.
The APBA official singled out Saina, accusing her of ‘starting it all’.
“Saina Nehwal has been skipping the nationals for the last six years. Other players cite some reason or the other, but Saina has not even bothered to respond to our mails,” he fumed.
Pointing out that Vijayawada is hosting the nationals after 25 years, he recalled, ‘In 1980, Prakash Padukone flew all the way from Denmark to play in the nationals.’
He further accused the players of being readily available for the financially rich Indian Badminton League. Chief national coach Pullela Gopichand also termed the issue a serious problem. “We have to address this seriously and there should be a logical end to this crisis,” he opined.
Saina has often cited her international commitments to skip national tournaments and this time, she will be flying to England for the All-England tournament this month-end.
caught in badminton row
Missing from national meet: Saina Nehwal (in pic),
Parupalli Kashyap, RMV Gurusaidutt and Ajay Jayaram.
Players who played in team events but skipped open events: PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth and doubles duo of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa.