IBL will benefit Indian players: Aparna Popat
Mumbai: Gearing up for her new role as coach of the Indian Badminton League franchise Mumbai Masters, two-time Olympian shuttler Aparna Popat said the initiative would benefit the country`s players.
"I think it`s a huge opportunity. There are a few top 10 players, who are playing the IBL and giving our players a chance to play against these players in a span of three weeks, I think is going to be very useful and fruitful for them," Aparna said.
She was also excited about the challenge of coaching a team in the August 14-31 event to be held in six cities.
"I haven`t coached too much, but I have been following the game keenly. It is going to be a big challenge for me and I am very excited," Aparna said.
"Considering that we have only a limited kitty, all the teams have a couple of non-players on their side, but having said that Pranav Chopra is number one in doubles in our country. We have Siki Reddy who, I think, is number two in women`s doubles in the country," she said.
"I am tremendously excited. They (Lee Chong Wei and Tine Baun) are great champions and it is brilliant to have them as part of our team," she said.
"We have a few top Indian players in the doubles side as well. Marc Zweibler is the European champion. (Vladimir) Ivanov, the Russian, is good to play all the events - singles, doubles and mixed doubles. I think we are okay with our team composition," Aparna quipped.
The IBL commences soon after the World Championships that would be held from August 5 to August 11 in Guangzhou, China, and the former India number one defended the timing of the event.
"The international badminton calendar is very full. At this stage having the tournament at any given date that is available, is the right thing to do. Otherwise, the tournament calendar is very full," Aparna pointed out.
The IBL format does not have women`s doubles and Aparna explained that the organisers have their reasons for it.
"If you were to go by the Sudirman Cup format, then we are missing a women`s doubles (team) but I think the IBL organisers have their own reason for not including it. This is what we have got as of now, and we are happy with it," she added.
The Chinese players are not participating in the inaugural edition of the tournament and Aparna is hopeful of seeing them in the next edition.
"Having them around would have been brilliant. They have a genuine reason not to be here and play this tournament since they have their national games at the end of August. The IBL is going to happen and hopefully we can see the Chinese participation next time around," Aparna said.
The IBL has found itself in a few problems but Aparna insisted they were minor.
"It is the first year that they are doing something. In a sport like badminton, where this hasn`t happened before, there would be a few teething problems, but all in all if the tournament goes ahead and matches go along well, I think we could just be happy at this stage and learn for the next year.
"There have been a few teething problems and there are a few lessons to be learnt, but I am sure this tournament will be a grand success this time around and next time will be even bigger," she said.
Aparna said she was also optimistic about the chances of Indian players winning in the World Championships.
"Saina (Nehwal) is our front runner. And she has got a good draw. The Indians have been playing really well over the last year, especially since the Olympics. I am just hoping that they come up with some big performances.
"P V Sindhu also has a good chance. She has been playing well and is a dangerous player. Let`s hope she can play to her potential and do really well," she said.