A ‘New Ball’ could be a game-changer for ‘Ball Badminton’

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‘Badminton’ and ‘Ball Badminton’ originated in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu in the 19th century.

Do you know badminton and ball badminton originated in India in the 19th century? But even after originating in the same country, at the same time the ball badminton is still not as popular as badminton. What could be the possible reason?

‘The ball’

You heard it right!

The make of the ball was the major hurdle and that it could not be used in different climates prevailing in the Indian subcontinent. The ball made of wool weighed 27 to 30 grams and in cold climates, its weight increases owing to the absorption of the moisture. It affects the flight of the ball. With the woollen ball, it cannot even be promoted in the cold Indian states like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh etc.

Sad to say, this is still a major impediment in making ball badminton, a global sport.

For this sheer reason, the British of erstwhile India though they loved ball badminton could not promote it in the western world just as they took badminton from the city of Pune to Europe. The sport also enjoyed the patronage of the erstwhile kings of Tanjore.

In independent India, the only initiative to develop the sport was the establishment of the Ball Badminton Federation of India (BBFI) in 1954. BBFI along with the Indian Athletic Federation and the Indian Hockey Federation formed the Indian Olympic Association in 1961. The sport is not even included in the National Games of India.

You can still see some pockets of Southern India playing ball badminton maybe because it fetched employment opportunities owing to the availability of sports quota recruitment for the ball badminton players in governmental organizations like Indian Railways.

Nevertheless, there’s of course light at the end of the tunnel as Akshay P I, a sports engineering student from Sports and Management Research Institute (SMRI) has initiated research to invent a substitute for the woollen ball.

He says changing the woollen ball is the best way to promote ball badminton globally. “The new ball must have the same weight and flight of the woollen ball. Not to forget that the new ball must not adversely affect the play of players. And that is the challenge.”

Akshay strongly believes that a moisture-resistant material like polyester or nylon can substitute wool which will help to revive the dampened scenario of the game.  

He is researching under the guidance of Diana Alosius, Head of Sports Engineering Department, SMRI.

Many other games born in India share the similar fate of Ball badminton due to the lack of patronage.
Of late, the importance given to traditional games by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi through his address on ‘Man ki Baath‘  and the establishment of International Yoga day in 2015 have certainly given impetus to heritage games.

Hope such efforts would also reach sports like ball badminton before it becomes a passé.

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