Pune was on Friday named as the new franchise of the Premier Badminton League, making the event a nine-team affair from this season. In its endeavour to make PBL a much bigger affair, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) has introduced the new team for the fourth edition of the league.
The Pune team has been named as Pune Seven Aces and is owned by popular Bollywood actress Taapsee Pannu and KRI. “The number of people getting inclined towards badminton in this country has witnessed a steep rise in the last few years. PBL especially has been instrumental for such a development,” BAI President and Chairman PBL Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
“The League started off with six teams in Season 1 and now we have nine franchisees within a span of three years, which is an incredible feat. I am confident we will continue to increase the popularity of the sport and PBL will continue to make waves all across in the future too,” he added.
The upcoming season will be held from December 22 to January 13, 2019 and will be played across five cities, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru. Taapsee Pannu, the Pune owner, said after signing her association with the League, “I have played quite a bit of badminton in my early days and have a special liking for the game.
“I always wanted to associate myself with the game in a big way and I have found the perfect avenue to express my passion through the League. I am confident that Pune Seven Aces will be a team to reckon with.”
Mumbai will host the opening ceremony of the fourth edition. The league, which offers a prize purse of Rs 6 crore, was an eight-team competition last year with Delhi Dashers (Delhi), Mumbai Rockets (Mumbai), Awadhe Warriors (Lucknow), Hyderabad Hunters (Hyderabad), Chennai Smashers (Chennai), Bengaluru Raptors (Bengaluru) Ahmedabad Smash Masters (Ahmedabad) and North Eastern Warriors (North East) fighting for the top honours.
Hyderabad, led by 2016 Olympic champion Carolina Marin, had claimed the winning purse last season. In Season 3, the league attracted 60 world class players, including nine Olympic medalists.