PBL 2018: Saina Nehwal says the end-of-year tournament takes a toll on the bodies of players

Mumbai: The Premier Badminton League (PBL), starting in Mumbai on Saturday, is being held at the end of the year after a hectic season and at times it does affect the players' bodies, feels star Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal.

"Everyone gives their 100 per cent, that's for sure, and wants to win. But it's the end of the year and sometimes it gets to the body. It's not easy for all the players. It's one of the toughest tournaments, but everyone gives their best," said Saina at a PBL pre-season 4 media conference in Mumbai.

File image of Saina Nehwal. Reuters

File image of Saina Nehwal. Reuters

Saina, who would be leading North Eastern Warriors in the nine-team League, was responding to a query whether the players could replicate in the PBL the intensity with which they normally play in the Super Series events.

"It's not the same as a tournament. It is a team event. You enjoy playing a team event. For us it's sometimes like a festival. We see so many matches. Youngsters also benefit. Badminton is growing now because of the performances (of the top shuttlers) and because of the league," insisted the 2012 London Olympic Games women's singles bronze medallist.

Reigning Olympic and world women's singles champion Carolina Marin agreed with Saina.

"The pressure is much different. For us, we have to think about team not ourselves," said Marin who is to captain league debutantes Pune 7 Aces.

National badminton coach Pullela Gopichand said the league has helped someone like Kidambi Srikanth over the last three years to improve his game at the international level.

"Take for example Srikanth — the league has helped him. It has helped even (doubles players) Satviksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini (Ponappa) who got a lot of confidence after playing in it.

"There has been a huge positive response from junior players who have travelled with the teams. So many have benefited from being part of the teams - playing or not playing," said Gopi.

Atul Pande of the franchise league organisers Sportzlive (under the aegis of the Badminton Association of India) said the only window the Badminton World Federation provides them was now (in December).

"In Super Series events they (players) have to play a match every day but here it's usually once every third day. It's easier on the body," he explained.

He conceded that the franchises were yet to make a profit.

"Generally speaking, no. Without prize money no, they are not making money. It's like so many other leagues. At this point of time the central revenue pool is not enough for the franchises to break even. It takes time to increase the pool," he said.

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Updated Date: Dec 21, 2018 22:36:06 IST

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