I am watching a lot and learning about permaculture, rainforests and the Miyawaki method and found a close connection between climate change of the planet and our changes in the world of badminton. One of the legends in Badminton, unarguably the most successful in men’s singles has been announced his retirement a week ago. I have listened to and heard the voice of people about them recently and now I hear concerning voices over badminton which makes me believe that the fell and the decay of the legends will create panic and then ignorance in our beloved sport and this could change the sport`s environment for many long years to come. So let`s put down these thoughts and start building up the future of the next era of legends.
Well, forests have layers and all the layers have a crucial part for other layers to stay healthy and thrive. They are also enriching their own soil with nutrients and exchanging those among them. Most of us think that only the visible things are important in a forest but the magic is rather happening under the ground where all of the roots are settled. Like our feelings in badminton. In this context, the soil represents the collective mind and soul of badminton lovers. It means all supporters, officials, players, fans, representers of clubs, associations, countries who want the game get going. When a layer or two weaken then imbalance create opportunities for other layers to step up to make the weak part of the forest great again. Many people recently supported the Yonex Legends and they loved watching them and following their journey on and off courts. Their rivalry made the sport so exciting to all the top badminton followers. We have talked about them in the sports hall, on the streets, online, everywhere we could find a buddy who has an opinion. We felt we lived with them. We even started similar rivalries which further increased our excitement about the sport. We felt these for years and we were so glad about it. We thought that everything is just right in the world and felt less worried about things. The first Yonex Legend has retired in 2012 (Peter Gade) the second has retired in 2013 (Taufik Hidayat) and some of their fan bases went to support the rivalry between Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan. Yonex, the sports equipment supplier has sensed the reduction of supporters (probably through sales figures or hopefully there is another sublime explanation) and made the Legends vision in 2015. So there was still hope to see incredible games off competition whether those ones are retired or active. This fanbase could still found excitement to watch LCW and Super Dan rise while the rest of the Legends started their worldwide promotion of the sport. After Lee Chong Wei retired in 2019 a huge fanbase felt totally defeated and demolished. Some of them followed and loved him so much that now they are feeling lonely and less interested in badminton as a whole. Lin Dan still chased his dream to compete for China once again in Tokyo 2020 Olympics. But shortly after the International Olympic Day he announced his retirement, so the last hope for the lovers of the Legends era has seen him fall down to the ground of the soil of badminton. Which is in fact, as good to badminton as when they were rising.
So global groups of badminton lovers feel they lost their identity and now confused who to follow, what players/matches to see or trying to prove to each other online which player is not as good as the Legends were or actually starts discussions about which legend were the best. Most of the badminton buddies are still sharing lots of contents about the Legends involved while ignoring current emerging players. While at least, Yonex recognised another type of Legend coming outside of the Men Singles “species”. Lee Yong Dae, who has played all 3 disciplines professionally what a man could do, but only became a legend in Men’s doubles discipline. This is good that such potential is discovered and promoted by a company in badminton. In my humble opinion, it should better come by BWF but I`m still happy about it. What makes me sad is the dark side of the Legends’ vision. For some reason, Yonex did not recognise women legends. Despite there are. Some of them are supported by Yonex but most of them do not. Zhao Yunlei, Yu Yang, Lilyana Natsir, Huang Yaqiong are from the past but also won loads of tournaments and are closely behind Lee Chong Wei`s achievements (see here). We must embrace women to start the sport, promoting them with women examples and advertise them as much as men. We are struggling in the UK to find girls to play badminton, furthermore, women are rather not choosing any sport at all. The UK has launched a campaign called #thisgirlcan to promote sports in general as a form of joy in daily life. And guess what, it is successful. Don`t get me wrong, I understand that the pace of the game for women might not that fast but I doubt that it could not be that exciting, aggressive or intense. (Watch this or this or this)
We must promote women. We must focus on the health of the soil of badminton. We must enrich it whether money involved or not. For every good badminton player, former or active on this planet, it does not a matter which country you are right now, this is the right time to be generous with your time and at least offer your presence and play for badminton communities who would benefit from your one-off appearance. Imagine if Lee Chong Wei would walk into a local hall to play no strings with some local guys, totally unexpected. The same applies to every good player locally. In a local community, you might be a star to them so you don`t need to be a legend to do such roadshow. Go for an unpaid tour for fun, locally, drop-in to local groups and clubs uninvited and amaze them with your skills through long rallies. Be respectful and show them your excellent accuracy and patience on the court. A friend can make a video about it and share it online with the hashtag of #impressalegend or make a post to encourage other good players. This is working, see here and here. Even a mediocre player can make an impression like me, so you can do it. You do not need lots of things for that but your will, attitude a racket and a friend. After the impression, invite and also introduce youngsters to local clubs where you are well-known. Literally, bring them in and show them how a training looks like. The amazement does not need to stop where you started. Your mission is to make the competition denser by encouraging more children to play. Girls and boys equally.
That is a good way of preparing the soil for the future of badminton and this will accelerate the process of getting more good players worldwide. Miyawaki San would be proud of us on this mission for sure if we could adapt his conception in badminton.
And as one of the legends said in this video, “You can create legends everywhere.” And it is so true.
So please offer your time, make an impression locally and pay tribute to the next legends rise. #impressalegend.
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