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The Mercantile Badminton Tournament was also disrupted this year because it clashed with the senior nationals

Parents reveal how inconvenienced players were due to the excessive travelling their children had to do due to the clashing of the senior and junior nationals

The badminton nationals that concluded on October 29 in Kurunegala stirred the emotions of players, parents and spectators. The most effected were the juniors who were denied the opportunity of playing in the senior nationals. Even if some managed that, it was tough for most juniors because the two events clashing meant players would overspend their energies.

Sri Lanka Badminton (SLC) has sent a thanking letter to all affiliated associations and clubs in the country stating that the senior and junior badminton nationals were a success. This letter thanks them for their participation at this event. Weekend Nation deems it fit to analyze two events and figure out whether coupling these two events served much purpose. During this period the Mercantile Championships were also worked off. This meant that players contesting the senior nationals were also robbed of the change of doing well at the mercantile tournament.

SLB officials throughout the tournament maintained the fact that the juniors would benefit by seeing the seniors in action if the two tournaments were played at the same venue. Accomplished badminton players criticized the decision taken to couple the two events by saying that juniors can only peak for one event. “Many years ago, most of the events in the senior nationals were contested by juniors because the administration made it a point to see that tournaments never clashed. I think the juniors were severely affected by how the two tournaments were held this year,” a reputed badminton coach said.

For the record, only 10 pairs entered the women’s doubles event which meant that there would be five byes if the programme schedule contained 16 matches. The women’s singles attracted a low 19 entries while only 12 pairs showed interest to contest the mixed doubles. Critics pointed out that entries for a mega event like the nationals shouldn’t be so low.

Most of the qualifying round matches in the junior competition were played in Colombo. This meant that players coming from outstation areas like the South had excessive travelling to do. This is because after finishing the Colombo based matches they had to play the rest of the tournament in Kurunegala.

Some parents say that the facilities available for the juniors in Kurunegala were horrible. The facilities available for juniors at the stadium in Boyagana had poor lighting. The players claimed that they were bothered by a glare that troubled their eyes. As a result of poor light some matches were even postponed to another day. This meant that some players who already had a heavy schedule the following day would have been burned out because of extra matches.

The sanitary facilities available for the players at this stadium were also not up to any standard. It is said that a badminton referee who inspected the venues before the tournaments commenced had mentioned several shortcoming in his report. But SLB officials had not taken action as a follow up to the report.

Parents who accompanied the players from the Boyagane Stadium to the Welagedara Stadium in Kurunegala also had to incur additional costs for travelling. The distance between these two venues was somewhere between 6 to 8 kilometres.

There is another point highlighted by critics these days. The tour to Spain by the junior national team to contest the World Junior Championships has come under heavy criticism. What is the use of sending a team which has no chance of contesting an event in the magnitude of the world championships when the players from Sri Lanka were so under prepared? This tour was organized after incurring heavy costs. For the record, Sri Lanka lost 5-0 to South Korea and Sweden.

Would it not have been better for these juniors to have contested the Junior nationals that just concluded and gained a more worthwhile experience?