The long wait is over for shuttlers
Sport was halted by the Covid-19 pandemic and although some have already come out of that slumber, other disciplines are still trying to find their feet. Finally, after a patient three-year wait, the 37th edition of the National Badminton Championship is set to take the stage at the Shaheed Tajuddin Ahmed Indoor Stadium in Dhaka today.
377 shuttlers, including 313 men and 64 women, from 71 teams will feature in the tournament, which will be the first on the recently-renovated wooden floor.
The last major badminton event came during the Bangabandhu 9th Bangladesh Games in April 2021, when 17-year-old Gourab Singha became champion in the singles event and climbed to the top of the national rankings.
The youngster will be tasked with defending his national title in this edition of the championship against the likes of two-time national champion Mohammad Salman Khan, who said he was keen to play on the refurbished surface.
"I'm glad that the tournament is being held again after almost three years of waiting. The renovation works finished 10-15 days ago. I look forward to playing," Salman told The Daily Star.
When asked how his preparations for the tournament were given that they gym was off limits due to the renovation, the Sylhet-born shuttler said that he and fellow local players had trained in the district's local academy.
"Players from Sylhet trained at the Sylhet Badminton Academy, so we didn't face many problems in terms of finding a place to train. But players from Dhaka faced problems. However, we now go ahead with all we have and look forward," he added.
Inconsistency in staging events and tournaments has always been an issue for the Bangladesh Badminton Federation (BBF).
After dissolving the elected committee in 2020, the National Sports Council (NSC) disclosed a 27-member ad-hoc committee to run the federation. But that ad-hoc committe also disssloved and now, another interim committe is running the show.
However, Salman was reluctant to speak about the environment in the federation or its duties, focusing instead only on conversations about the game.
Salman believes there are many talented shuttlers scattered across the country that need to be groomed properly.
However, the 26-year-old's drive for the game is gradually fading as he comes to terms with the realities of the sport in the country.
"I play these tournaments as a hobby now. My goal was to become a national champion. I did that and saw the reality of the country's badminton structure. To me it's more of a hobby than a profession. I hope that future shuttlers will have a better experience with the game." he concluded.