Badminton has seen unparalleled popularity in India in recent years, mainly triggered by the emergence of global superstars such as Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth and others.
But India’s connection to the game of badminton goes back much further, even to antiquity. In fact, India played an important role in badminton which emerged as a world famous sport.
Here we take a look at the history of badminton in India and how the subcontinent shaped the sport as we know it today.
Badminton is an indoor game where competitors hit a shuttlecock back and forth over a net without allowing the shuttle to touch the ground. The object of the game is to hit the butterfly to the floor on the opposite side of the net so that the shot cannot be returned. Only the serving player can score. from a rally. Badminton singles are played by two opponents and doubles by teams of two people.
Badminton games began in India which also knew “Poona”. In the 1860s, it was adopted by British army officers stationed in India. The officers took the game back to England where it soon became very popular.
Badminton is one of the fastest racket sports, requiring quick reflexes and superb conditioning. In a badminton smash, the remote control has speeds above 200 m.p.h in the best international competition.
Badminton was first introduced at the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain (1992) and again at the Olympic Gams in Atlanta (1996), and will continue as a full medal sport.
Other international badminton games; Olympics, Thomas & Uber Cups (World Championships for men and women, held every year), World Cup (held every two years), Sudirman Cups (World Mixed Team Championship, every two years), Pan American Games (every four years), US Open and other international competitions.
The International Badminton Federation (IBF) is headquartered in Gloucestershire, England and was founded in 1934.
The history of badminton in India
The exact origins of badminton, to date, remain unclear, but there have been references to games involving balls and rackets in historical records of ancient India, China, and Greece. The mentions date back almost 2000 years.
In mediaeval Europe, a children’s game called battledore and badminton, in which players used a paddle (battledore) to hold a small feather in the air for as long as possible, was also popular. Jeu de Volant was another similar game played by European aristocrats in the 17th century.
However, the transformation of the former racquet sport into a globally recognised sporting discipline began from India.
British army officers were introduced to the domestic version of the game, which was played for centuries while stationed in India around the 1860s.
They made their own adaptations to the sport, mainly adding the net and calling it Poona or Poonah, after the city (Pune) garrison was based in. The first informal set of badminton rules for the game was formed in India by the British colonists. 1867
Interestingly, ball badminton – another variant of the game of wool balls instead of shuttlecocks – was popular in southern parts of India. The British soldiers in India also drew inspiration from it and used balls rather than shuttles while playing the game in windy or wet conditions.
Soldiers returning from India took the game back to England and soon gained the attention of the former Duke of Beaufort. In 1873 the Duke introduced the game to his guests on a lawn held on his estate in Gloucestershire.
The duke called it the “Badminton game” after the name of his estate – Badminton House. The name stuck, and thus the sport became badminton.
Badminton’s popularity increased rapidly and it went from being a leisure activity in the garden to becoming a game popular in clubs.
Bath Badminton Club, the first dedicated badminton club, was formed in 1877 and ten years later the club wrote about the informal rules coined in India. The Bath Badminton Club rules created the framework for today’s badminton.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) was founded in 1899, six years after the Badminton Association of England (BAE). It is one of the oldest badminton governing bodies in the world.