The second edition of the PNB Metlife Junior Badminton Championship got underway at the Goregaon Sports Club yesterday. The tournament's west zone edition has seen the number of entries rise three-fold to 1200 as compared to 400 participants last year. The U-9 and U-11 age groups have been added to the U-13, U-15 and U-17 categories this year, besides more than 100 underprivileged children kids brought in by SARA Foundation for the four-day tourney.
Chairperson of SARA Foundation Ashish Srivastav said the idea is to try and give every child access to the game at a young age. "Our aim is to ensure underprivileged children are drawn to the sport at a young age and build interest in the sport the grass-root level. We hope some of these kids will go on to represent the nation in badminton as they grow," said Srivastav.
Ganesh Nikam of CRY (Child Rights and You) foundation also hailed the concept. "It's a great move to see underprivileged children rub shoulders with children from richer backgrounds. It will be a learning experience for the kids."
Gujarat coach Naresh Joshi said results do not matter in a tournament like this. "We have come here from Gujarat and it does not matter even if our players get knocked out in the first round. The idea is to encourage participation," said Joshi, whose daughter Tanisha began her campaign on a positive note beating state-mate Shruti Joshi 11-10, 11-9 in the first round of the U-15 competition.