Badminton Association of India (BAI) president Himanta Biswa Sarma announced on Monday, September 11, that there will be significant rise in the prize money of the Senior National Championships. Close to Rs 1 crore will be doled out to the players from this year's Senior Nationals.
"We will be increasing the prize money close to 1 crore from this year and the players will be getting prize money from the pre-quarters stage," Sarma announced on the sidelines of the Manorama BWF World Senior Championships in Kochi.
International playing conditions at senior nationals
He also confirmed participation of top players, including the likes of PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth in the upcoming national championships in Nagpur from November 1 and 7.
The players have been consulted and assured of international standard playing conditions, which was a key concern from the players' side.
"We want to transform national championship into a brand. We already have a brand in PBL and we want our premier domestic tournament also to become a huge hit amongst the fans. It has been a long time that the fans have seen high-profile clashes in the national circuit and we hope to transform the National Championship from this year," the BAI president added.
Sarma also conceded that their presence will not only be spectacular for fans but will also help in attracting broadcasters in turn driving sponsorships for the tournament in the domestic sector.
Prakash Padukone to be honoured
BAI also announced that it would bestow annual Lifetime Achievement Awards to the greats of the game who have made rich contributions to the cause of the sport in the country, with Prakash Padukone named as the first recipient of this new initiative.
The legendary player who is the only Indian male player to reach the top of BWF rankings will be awarded with a cash award of INR 10 Lakhs and a citation.
"This is for the first time that BAI has come up with such award as it is time we recognize the immense contribution of these stalwarts towards the growth of badminton in the country. And no other name would have been apt but Prakash Padukone, to confer the first award. A grand ceremony will be organized in New Delhi soon to felicitate Padukone," Sarma said.
Scholarships for junior players
Also to create a new pool of champions, BAI has decided to award scholarships to junior players annually and is working in full swing along with various state governments to set up the five new regional academies in east, west, north, south and north-east of India.
"Every year we want to throw in new champions on the circuit and the academy and the scholarship and dedicated training will help us in that endeavour. The new academies will be solely owned by BAI and we are already in advanced talks with different states to identify the right partners," he further added.