Badminton Life

UAE Take First Steps with Inaugural Ranking Tournament

Malaysia's improvement as a force in world badminton is coming at a cost to the sport's national governing body.

The emirate of Dubai is leading the way, as it does in many aspects of UAE life, with the first ranking tournament to be held in the country.

The Emirates Club is home to a small but dedicated group of badminton lovers, who want to promote the game among the people of UAE by staging ranking events.

JJ Jalal, the tournament co-ordinator, was quoted as saying in local media: "Despite badminton being played in almost all the clubs in the UAE, this sport is yet to get official recognition. It does not even have an association or a ranking system and so we are keen to promote this sport.

"Except for the India Club tournaments there are not even any events for players to display their talent. So we have decided to get together all the badminton players in the UAE and establish a proper system."

For the start, the players are at state and university level and they hope to begin with a two-day tournament held over consecutive weeks in March.

They are also hoping to set up a ranking system and form a legally recognised association that would one day be sanctioned by world governing body, Badminton World Federation.

They also want the Ministry of Sport to get involved and promote the game in UAE.

Jalal added: "This tournament will be confined to men's singles and doubles events and the ranking will be based on the performance of the UAE players in this tournament."

The Emirates Club is a mixed bag of badminton enthusiasts of all nationalities who practice every day at the Etisalat Academy in Muhaisnah. This is also where the tournament will be held.

"In the absence of an official association, badminton players here do not even get invitations to play in tournaments abroad. Many times our club has played in tournaments in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Malaysia as the team from the UAE," said Jalal.

"Once the UAE badminton association is formed, the players here could get official invitations to play in tournaments abroad and also register with the Asian Badminton Confederation (ABC). We will also be able to promote the sport at the grass root level by providing coaching for budding youngster."

More than 20 years ago, Dubai was just a uninspiring desert town. Now, it is a modern, sprawling metropolis with world-class infrastructure and forward-thinking leaders.

If its Jalal and his friends have the same work ethic and enthusiasm as the people who made Dubai an international city, then it may not be long before Arab shuttlers from the UAE start to make an impact on the world badminton scene.

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