Badminton: breeding passions and champions in Indonesia

Jakarta, Dec 10 (EFE).- With more than 1,600 clubs throughout the archipelago, badminton unleashes passions in Indonesia, one of the world powers of this sport in which it has won the only eight gold medals in its Olympic history.

As with every competition, Indonesian fans will avidly follow the World Championship in the Spanish city of Huelva from Sunday to Dec. 19 hoping some of its stars, such as Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu, become title winners.

Although originating in England, badminton has a massive following in countries such as China, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan, whose players win the majority of international tournaments.

The interest in this sport in Indonesia, which reached the archipelago before its independence in 1945, is sustained in the backyards, parks and stadiums where people of all ages, sex and economic backgrounds play it.

“More and more people, from children to adults, are interested in badminton. Many residents play in the streets, in alleys, on indoor or outdoor courts,” said Deri Destan, from the Indonesian Badminton Association.

One of the reasons for the popularity of badminton is that equipment, including rackets and shuttles, is affordable and it doesn’t require a large space to play.

“The demand for badminton equipment has increased rapidly. Badminton stores are full of fans who want to buy rackets, shoes, shirts and such” Destan said.

Some practice it in alleys using a rope as a net or even without a net, anything goes as long as they have a little fun hitting the shuttlecock from one side to the other.

“Long before independence, many cities in (the island of) Java such as Jakarta, Bandung, Cirebon, Semarang, Solo, Yogyakarta, Malang and Surabaya had badminton clubs,” Destan said.

He said the national association was created in 1951 and seven years later Indonesia won the Thomas Cup in Singapore, equivalent to the Davis Cup in Tennis, the first international sporting success.

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