Players getting ready for exhausting month, full of events as National Championship runs concurrently with the Mercantile Badminton Championship

The cream of badminton players in the island are expected to experience exhaustion in the coming days with the much looked forward to Mercantile Badminton Championships expected to run concurrently with the National Championships conducted by the Sri Lanka Badminton Federation (SLBF).

Most of the top rated players are employed by mercantile firms and banks and will give priority to represent their employee at the Mercantile Badminton Championships. But SLBF officials are said to be adamant in telling the players to choose which tournament they must contest.

The players are caught between the devil and deep blue sea. They need the salary from their place of employment and also the blessings of the national governing body for badminton regarding future tours.

SLBF President Suraj Dandeniya when contacted said that he had spoken to officials of the Mercantile Badminton Association and sorted out the problem amicably. “Matches in both these tournaments will not clash. Both parties have agreed to conduct their tournaments so that it will not affect the other event. The most important event is the badminton nationals, but we have respect for the Mercantile Badminton Association and its activities so we have found a solution through a compromise,” said Dandeniya.

An informed source in the badminton circle told Nation that the players are now gearing up to contest both events and have made up their minds to shuffle between Colombo and Kurunegala, the venues for the two tournaments.

The Mercantile Badminton Championships will be held from October 8-30 in Colombo while the National Championships will be held at the Welagedara Stadium in Kurunegala from October 19-29.

The source further pointed out that playing in these two tournaments can really deplete the energies of the players because most of them have the tendency to play in two or more events. The source also added that a player can peak only for one tournament.
Another feature in the National Badminton Championships this year that has raised concerns within the badminton fraternity is the SLBF taking a decision to include the Junior Nationals to the event. Generally the Junior Nationals was conducted by the Sri Lanka Schools Badminton Association. Critics point out that it would be near impossible to conduct so many matches in Kurunegala because the number of final round matches in the junior event alone will exceed 1000. Dandeniya said that the future of badminton lay in the hands of junior players and their presence at the nationals was important.
The SLBF President further added that the national badminton calendar was made public very early in the year. He said that as a result the players were quite aware of the nationals. But critics point out that the dates of the nationals were brought forward to accommodate the sports minister who is expected to grace the occasion as chief guest.
Officials of the Mercantile Badminton Association were not available for comment.
Tournament Secretary of the Mercantile Badminton Tournament, Chandana Nilantha when contacted said that certain matches where senior national players are expected to feature were rescheduled to avoid a clash with matches in similar categories at the National Championships.