In an encouraging move, the Bangladesh Badminton Federation has principally agreed to hold a combined league for both male and female shuttlers instead of two separate leagues, officials said on Friday.
The move was discussed in a recent meeting of the federation’s technical committee where all members agreed to it, said Jahidul Haq Kochi, the tournament committee chairman of the federation.
A combined league for male and female shuttlers was nothing new in badminton and neighbouring India were hugely benefitted from the move, said Kochi, also member of the federation.
Indian female shuttler PV Sindhu claimed silver medal in Rio Olympics three years after the league was introduced to the country with six franchises.
Bangladesh’s female shuttlers said they can be also benefited playing against their male counterparts in the league if the move is materialised.
Currently, local clubs need to form separate teams for male and female shuttlers for separate leagues.
Since the clubs have an obligation to stay in male’s First Division League, the mostly concentrate on it, leaving the female shuttlers playing with hand-to-mouth.
The little or no interest from the clubs saw only three teams in female league last year while eight clubs participated in male league.
‘We want this discrimination to go and this is one reason for us to take this imitative,’ said federation official Kochi.
‘With the new formation, the clubs have to pick quality shuttlers in both male and female category in order to get success,’ he said.
Shapla Akter, current national champion and member of reigning Women’s First Division League champions Knit Concern, expressed her gratitude to the federation for taking such an initiative.
‘It would be great initiative by the federation,’ Shapla said.
‘In the past only one and two clubs picked all the best women players in their team that often left the other clubs taking no interest in women’s league.
‘But now if this decision is implemented all clubs would treat us equally because to win the championship they have to depend on women’s shuttlers as well,’ she said.
Former national champion Alina Sultana was also happy with the proposed new format of the league.
‘Domestic league is the main tournament in any sports discipline but it is unfortunate that they are often left ignored most of the time,’ Alina said.
‘With the new format, the discrimination would be removed. It will definitely encourage the girls to take the sport seriously,’ she said.
Kawasaki Badminton Club, one of three clubs who formed both men’s and women’s team last edition, asked the federation to discuss the matter with the participation clubs before finalising the decision.
‘Personally I support this initiative,’ said club chairman Ohiduzzaman Razu, also president of Badminton Players’ Welfare Association.
‘But the federation must discuss it with clubs because most of them are suffering from lack of fund. With the new format clubs would have to spend more money to form their squad,’ he said.